Menard earns hard-fought Top-10 finish at Bristol 500

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Paul Menard and the No. 27 Schrock/Menard Team earn hard-fought Top-10 finish at Bristol Motor Speedway. Paul Menard started the No. 27 Schrock/Menards Chevrolet from the seventh position in the Saturday night NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race under the lights of Bristol Motor Speedway and overcame a number of challenges to earn a top-10 finish in the IRWIN Tools Night Race.

Paul Menard
Paul Menard

Photo by: Adriano Manocchia

Starting from the seventh position after rain caused NASCAR officials to cancel Friday's qualifying session and set the starting lineup based off of practice speeds, the Richard Childress Racing driver reported handling issues early in the 500-lap event but still competed in the top 15 for the first 148 laps before visiting pit road for routine service on lap 149.

Assessed a penalty for speeding while exiting pit road, Menard was forced to restart at the tail end of the longest line and climb back from the 28th position. Crew chief Slugger Labbe instructed Menard to remain on the race track during the next caution period on lap 190, placing the No. 27 Chevrolet team on a different pit cycle than the majority of the field and gaining much needed track position.

Battling a tight-handling condition on the neon yellow machine while running the inside groove, the Labbe-led team made minor adjustments on subsequent pit stops while under yellow-flag conditions to assist the Eau Claire, Wis., driver. Menard was a fixture in the top 15 for the final 130 laps, finally breaking back into the top 10 on lap 345 and ultimately crossing the finish line in the 10th position.

Paul Menard quote: "The No. 27 Schrock/Menards team did a great job tonight and the pit crew was just awesome on pit road. I'm proud of all of these guys. We fought hard for this top-10 finish."

Kevin Harvick and the Rheem Team bring home 15th-Place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway. Kevin Harvick drove Richard Childress Racing's No. 29 Rheem Chevrolet to a 15th-place finish Saturday night in the IRWIN Tools Night Race under the lights of Bristol Motor Speedway.

After rain showers cancelled qualifying Friday evening and NASCAR officials set the starting lineup according to practice speeds, Harvick started the 500-lap event from the 13th position and worked his way into the top 10 by lap 52. Harvick maintained a position in the top 10 until crew chief Gil Martin called him to pit road on lap 149 under caution for right-side tires and fuel.

The remaining top-15 cars elected to stay on track during the yellow-flag laps, placing the No. 29 Chevrolet in the 18th position for the ensuing restart. The Bakersfield, Calif., native worked his way back toward the front of the field settling into the top five on lap 193. The Rheem Chevrolet remained a fixture near the front of the field until making a final pit stop under caution on lap 415 in order to avoid running short on fuel at the end of the race.

Harvick returned to the track in the 11th position for the lap-419 restart and was shuffled back in the pack after being held on the bottom line, ultimately crossing the finish line in the 15th position. Following the 24th points paying event of the 2012 season, Harvick fell one position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings, to ninth, 82 points behind the leader.

Kevin Harvick quote: "The Rheem crew did a great job tonight. The car was good all weekend long, it just came down to fuel mileage. We couldn't make it until the end and were forced to make an extra pit stop."

On-track incident foils Jeff Burton's Top-Five effort at Bristol Motor Speedway. A multi-car accident on lap 192 collected Jeff Burton's No. 31 CAT Global Mining Chevrolet in the IRWIN Tools Night Race and spoiled a solid effort from the Richard Childress Racing driver under the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The South Boston Va., native started the race from the sixth position as rain on Friday evening forced NASCAR officials to cancel NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying and set the field according to first practice speeds. From the beginning of the 500-lap race, the No. 31 Chevrolet showed speed with Burton immediately entering the top five, where he was a mainstay for the first 150 laps of the event, running as high as second place.

Under a caution-flag period on lap 151, many competitors decided to stay on track, but Burton and crew chief Drew Blickensderfer made the call to come down pit road for a two-tire pit stop. The No. 31 CAT Global Mining Chevrolet was scored in the 17th position on the ensuing restart, but as Burton climbed his way back into the top 15, disaster struck on lap 192 in the form an unavoidable multi-car incident for the 21-time Sprint Cup Series race winner.

The damage to the black and gold machine was heavy enough to force the team to make repairs in the garage area for an extended period of time, with Burton eventually returning to the race track on lap 327. The team completed the remainder of the race and gained one position in the process, finishing in the 33rd position. Burton now sits 20th in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.

Jeff Burton quote: "I saw Ryan Newman get in trouble and he started spinning. He looked like he was going to stay against the wall so I committed to the bottom line and then he started to slide down the track and I couldn't get turned back to the right to avoid him. It was pretty disappointing. We had a really fast car tonight. The CAT Global Mining Chevrolet was really good and we needed a good run. We had a good enough car tonight to make that happen. It's just been one of those years."

Source: Richard Childress Racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR-CUP
Article type Race report
Tags burton, chevrolet, childress, harvick, menard, nascar-cup, rheem