Early Incident Relegates Paul Menard and the Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Team to a 27th-Place Finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway
Paul Menard and the No. 27 Pittsburgh Paints/Menards team lost ground early in the 501-mile NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race under the lights of Charlotte Motor Speedway when damage sustained during a restart relegated them to a 27th-place finish. The Eau Clair, Wis., native started the 334-lap event from the 24th position and quickly drove into the top 20, when the restart following the lap-12 caution period resulted in melee and damaged cars. Although it appeared unharmed, the No. 27 Chevrolet received damage to the splitter and fender causing a violent chattering of the tires. Menard fell in the running order and was scored in the 31st position when the right-front tire blew, sending the neon yellow machine into the outside wall of the 1.5-mile race track. The Pittsburgh Paints/Menards team made three visits to pit road to repair the damage. Throughout the remainder of the event, the Shane Wilson-led team made a series of chassis and air pressure adjustments during pit stops under green and yellow-flag conditions to assist Menard with the tight-handling condition that developed following the on-track incident. The car's handling improved towards the end, but Menard was ultimately relegated to a 27th-place finish.
PAUL MENARD QUOTE: "This was not the result we had hoped for today with the Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Chevrolet. We had a really good car, but with the damage after that first restart, we just lost too much ground. With long green-flag runs, there was no way of getting back on the lead lap. Shane (Wilson, crew chief) and the No. 27 guys did a great job making something out of the car after we hit the wall. It was running well at the end."
Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Jimmy John's team collected a 16th-place finish under the lights of Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday night. The 36-year-old driver started the race from the 11th position and quickly became a fixture in the top 10 during the early laps. Following the team's visit to pit road on lap 37 for right-side tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment while under caution, Harvick returned to the track in the fourth spot and continued to run within the top five until lap100 when he reported to crew chief Gil Martin that the Jimmy John's Chevrolet developed a loose-handling condition. The Martin-led pit crew made adjustments to the Richard Childress Racing machine during scheduled pit stops on laps 128 and 168 in an effort to alleviate the handling issues Harvick was battling. Back on track, the Bakersfield, Calif., native alerted Martin the changes created a tight-handling condition, which made the car difficult to maneuver around the 1.5-mile track. Harvick ultimately fell back in the field, crossing the finish line in the 16th position. Harvick remains 10th in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, 56 points out of the lead.
KEVIN HARVICK QUOTE: "This was a tough night for the Jimmy John's team. We started the race headed in the right direction, and lost our way toward the end. We never could find the right setup we needed to keep the car running near the front of the field."
On-Track Incident Relegates Jeff Burton to 28th-Place Finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway
A multi-car accident on a lap-16 restart collected Jeff Burton's No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet and spoiled a solid effort from the Richard Childress Racing team under the lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The South Boston Va., native started the race from the rear of the field as engine concerns forced the No. 31 crew to replace the motor in the car after Friday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice. From the beginning of the 501-mile race, the No. 31 Chevrolet showed speed with Burton immediately climbing 15 positions in the first five laps. After a caution-flag period on lap 12, Burton found himself mid-pack in the running order when multiple competitors in front of the 21-time Sprint Cup Series race winner stalled on the restart, creating an accordion-style accident which collected the No. 31 Chevrolet. The damage to the black and gold machine was heavy enough to force the team to make repairs during multiple pit stops under caution, with Burton eventually returning to track two laps down to the leader. The No. 31 CAT crew never gave up, completed the remainder of the race running competitive lap times and gained 10 positions in the process to finish in the 28th position. Burton remains 19th in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.
JEFF BURTON QUOTE: "That is just racing's version of bad luck right there. We had a good car after final practice on Friday and had to change engines. Coming through the field, we were caught up in that wreck, on a restart of all things, and there was nothing I could've done to avoid it. These No. 31 guys never gave up. They fixed the car quickly and we ran competitive lap times for the remainder of the race. I am looking forward to the race next weekend at Kansas Speedway."
Source: Richard Childress Racing