Richard Childress Racing Bristol II race report

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Richard Childress Racing press release

Bad Luck Plagues the No. 27 Sylvania/Menards Chevrolet Team at Bristol

Paul Menard, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
Paul Menard, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

Starting from the seventh position in Saturday's 500-lap annual affair under the lights of Bristol Motor Speedway, Paul Menard and the No. 27 Sylvania/Menards team were relegated to a 30th-place finish following an early pit road penalty and a series of wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time events, very typical at the half-mile bullring. Following the rock and roll and very patriotic kickoff to the 266.5 miler, Menard took the green flag and settled into the ninth spot. He came to pit road during the lap-nine caution period for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment, ordered by crew chief Slugger Labbe to combat the loose-handling condition that the driver of the No. 27 Chevrolet Impala was facing. He was penalized for exiting pit road too fast, costing the No. 27 team valuable track position and relegating him to the 35th spot on lap 37. By lap 60, Menard had advanced to the 27th spot and was turning laps as fast as the leader. As he battled to remain on the lead lap, Slugger asked his driver if the adjustments had assisted in the car's balance.

It was at lap 100 that the team realized that Menard was unable to communicate with them over the radio. As the yellow flag was displayed on lap 102, the No. 27 team scrambled to communicate to Menard that they wanted him to come to pit road. Shortly following the caution, Menard's voice was heard over the team radio and he reported that the wiring had been jostled out by some zip ties on the interior of the car. With the communication blackout remedied, it was back to work with the over-the-wall crew changing four tires, making a wedge adjustment and packing the car with Sunoco E15 fuel. Menard returned to the track and restarted in the 27th position on lap 110. He climbed to as high as 20th, but was plagued by a persistent loose-handling condition that caused him to slip back to 28th. The Sylvania/Menards Chevrolet suffered a number of tire rubs due to fender-to-fender racing around the Bristol, Tenn.-based facility.

On lap 298, melee broke out when the No. 00 entry spun on the track. The car in front of Menard came to an abrupt stop. With no time to react, Menard made hard contact with the No. 11 entry, resulting in significant damage to the No. 27 Chevrolet. Several trips were made to pit road, where the Sylvania/Menards crew worked to make repairs. Restarting 32nd on lap 311, Menard was only able to climb back to 30th by the time the checkered flag flew on lap 500.

Start - 7 Finish - 30 Laps Led - 0 Points - 20

PAUL MENARD QUOTES: "If it could go wrong tonight, it did for the No. 27 Sylvania/Menards team. I put us back in the field with the pit road penalty, and was just never able to make it back. Track position here is so important, especially with the long green-flag runs at such a short track. This was definitely not what we needed in our effort to make the Chase (for the NASCAR Sprint Cup). We have two races to go and really need to capitalize on things. I think a second win is going to be what it takes for us. But, we have a great team and I know we can do it."

***

Harvick and the No. 29 Realtree/Bad Boy Buggies Chevrolet team score 22nd-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway

Kevin Harvick, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
Kevin Harvick, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Realtree/Bad Boy Buggies Chevrolet team scored a 22nd-place finish in the IRWIN Tools Night race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Harvick started the night from the 15th position and battled handling problems from the beginning of the race. The No. 29 Chevrolet Impala started off tight at the beginning of the run and a few laps later Harvick would radio to the team that he was loose. Crew chief Gil Martin called for the Harvick to stay out when the caution flag waved for the first time at lap 31, earning valuable track position. Harvick restarted in the seventh position and remained inside the top 10 until the caution flag waved again at lap 103. Martin called Harvick in for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment and thanks to a solid pit stop, the No. 29 Chevrolet restarted in the seventh position when the field took the green at lap 110.

As the laps clicked off, Harvick started dropping back as he battled an extremely loose-handling condition. By lap 178, he was running in the 26th position and at lap 200 he went down a lap to the leader. Harvick brought the No. 29 Realtree/Bad Boy Buggies Chevrolet down pit road at lap 239 for service and as the field cycled through green-flag stops, he went down a second lap to the leader before the caution flag waved again at lap 297. The No. 29 team elected to gamble on pit strategy and opted to stay out instead of pitting so that Harvick could take the wave around to gain one of his laps back. He restarted in the 24th position at lap 310. Just as the No. 29 team reached a point where they were going to have to pit for fuel, they caught a break as the caution flag waved at lap 360. Harvick brought the car in for four tires, fuel and additional adjustments and restarted in the 24th position when the field took the green at lap 368. The caution flag waved again at lap 413 and once again, Martin called for Harvick to stay out and take the wave around to get back on the lead lap.

The No. 29 Chevrolet restarted in the 23rd position at lap 420. At lap 463, Harvick went down a lap to the leader again, then switched to focusing on saving fuel as the team was going to be close on the finish. Harvick was able to save enough gas to make it to the checkered flag and finished in the 22nd position.

Start - 15 Finish - 22 Laps Led - 0 Points - 5

KEVIN HARVICK QUOTE: "The No. 29 Realtree/Bad Boy Buggies Chevrolet struggled tonight. We just couldn't get the car to handle well at all. We tried everything and nothing seemed to help. It was just a frustrating night to say the least, but we'll get it figured out over the next few weeks leading into The Chase."

***

Burton and Caterpillar Team Persevere to Post top-15 Finish at Bristol

Pit stop for Jeff Burton, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
Pit stop for Jeff Burton, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

Jeff Burton and the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet Racing Team battled a loose-handling condition throughout the IRWIN Tools Night Race to finish 15th in the 500-lap event at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday night. The South Boston, Va. native took the green flag at the half-mile concrete oval in the 21st position and learned early on the handling on the yellow and black machine was too loose for his liking, dropping him back to the 26th spot by lap 50. When the caution flew on lap 103, crew chief Luke Lambert made the call for a two-tire pit stop on the CAT Chevrolet, vaulting Burton from his 26th running position to line up ninth for the restart on lap 110. With each pit stop came an additional adjustment to the No. 31 Chevrolet, which assisted Burton with the handling in the opening laps of the runs, only to have the loose-handling condition return later, resulting in loss of track position.

After a long green-flag run during the middle stages of the event found Burton and the Caterpillar Chevrolet one lap down to the leaders in the 22nd position, a pit stop under the lap-299 caution allowed for larger chassis changes to the No. 31 machine. When the yellow flag was displayed next on lap 362, Lambert made the call for Burton to remain on track to receive the wave around, allowing the No. 31 Chevrolet to regain the lost lap and restart from the 19th position on lap 368. Burton was able to maintain track position during that run and once the final caution of the event flew on lap 415, he brought the Cat machine down pit road to the attention of the 31 pit crew for a chance to make one final adjustment. Armed with four fresh tires for the restart on lap 420, Burton took the green flag in the 19th position and fought his way up to 13th with just 25 laps remaining. Unfortunately, the loose condition once again returned to the Caterpillar Chevrolet, dropping Burton to 15th at the checkered flag.

Start - 21 Finish - 15 Laps Led - 0 Points Position - 24

JEFF BURTON QUOTE: "We battled a loose handling CAT Chevrolet all night long. Luke made a good call early on to regain us track position, but we just got too loose late in the runs. We were looking for more out of tonight's race but we'll build on this top-15 finish and move on to Atlanta."

***

Bowyer Finishes 26th at Bristol, Remains in Hunt for Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup

Clint Bowyer, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
Clint Bowyer, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

After starting 16th, Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 Hamburger Helper Chevrolet team finished 26th in the IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Immediately following the start of the 500-lap event at the facility deemed the "World's Fastest Half Mile," the Richard Childress Racing driver radioed to his crew chief Shane Wilson that his Chevrolet Impala was having trouble passing other competitors and it needed more grip in the middle of the 30-degree banked turns of the Bristol, Tenn.,-based bullring. Wilson chose to change two right-side Goodyear tires and make a chassis adjustment during a lap-33 caution flag period.

However, on the ensuing restart, the four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winner began to slide back through the field complaining of a loose-handling racer and eventually fell one lap down to the leaders before the next caution flag was displayed on lap 105. Under this caution, Wilson directed the "Helping Hands" pit crew to make wholesale chassis adjustments to the No. 33 Chevrolet. On the next 164-lap green-flag run which included two pit stops, Bowyer couldn't find the necessary grip to improve his lap times and position on the track and dropped four laps down to the leaders in 37th position. However, the No. 33 team never gave up and played their strategy in an effort to get back on the lead lap by accepting the "wave around" pass from NASCAR officials during a lap-299 caution-flag period. Back on the track three laps down, the 32-year-old Bowyer relayed that his No. 33 Chevrolet had no grip at all, but he started to pick off the competitors that were on the same lap, working his way up to 31st.

Once again, the RCR driver took another "wave around" pass on the final caution flag period of the day on lap 415 and restarted 28th. Over the final 80 laps, the Emporia Kan., native improved two more positions and crossed the finish line in 26th position, two laps down to the leaders. Bowyer, still deep in the hunt for the final Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup berth, now sits 12th in the NSCS driver championship point standings with only two races remaining before the Chase cutoff. He currently sits 22 points out of the top 10.

Start - 16 Finish - 26 Laps Led - 0 Points - 12

CLINT BOWYER QUOTE: "To come out and be this far off was the last thing we needed right now. We had the opportunity to gain major ground on the other Chase (for the NASCAR Sprint Cup) contenders and we blew it. There is obviously something wrong with our Bristol package. We were just too loose all night long and I couldn't find any grip out on the track. We aren't out of this thing yet, but we must get better these next two weeks to survive."

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags bowyer, burton, chevrolet, childress, harvick, menard, sprint cup