Paul Menard and the No. 27 Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Team Finish 16th at Dover
Paul Menard and the Pittsburgh Paints/Menards team rallied back to a 16th-place finish in the closing laps of the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway after working to neutralize the handling of the No. 27 Chevrolet Impala throughout the majority of the day at the "Monster Mile." Menard started the Richard Childress Racing machine from the third position, his best career start at the Dover, Del.-based facility, and remained in the top 10 until the lap-40 competition caution. Despite the air pressure and chassis adjustments that the Slugger Labbe-led crew applied, the car's balance transitioned from loose to tight and back to loose over the course of the 400 miler. The team raced between 11th and 16th as the race approached the halfway point and Menard reported the handling was much improved after the first 10 laps of a run. With the track conditions shifting, the car's handling became increasingly loose and Menard slipped to 17th. After a green-flag pit stop on lap 243, the No. 27 Chevrolet cycled back to the 18th position by the time the caution flag was displayed on lap 255. Menard reported the handling was now tight in the center of the turns. Labbe called his driver to pit road for a two-tire stop which moved the Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Chevrolet back into the top 15. Despite the efforts to tighten the car's handling, Menard continued to battle a loose condition and fell back to 20th by lap 322. A lap-352 caution gave the team the opportunity to remove a spring rubber from the right rear in an effort to adjust the car's handling. In the closing laps, Menard was able to climbed back, resulting in a 16th-place finish.
Start - 3 Finish - 16 Laps Led - 0 Points - 23
PAUL MENARD QUOTE: "The car wasn't extremely loose or extremely tight, we just couldn't seem to find the balance or the right line to run. The thing that's great about Dover (International Speedway) is that you can run from the top to the bottom of the track. Today I would get past a car and then while searching for the line that the Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Chevrolet could run best, the car would be back on our rear bumper. We're chipping away at getting better at Dover."
Harvick Notches Top-10 Finish at Dover to Take Over Points Lead
Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Rheem "Chasing the Cure" Chevrolet team picked up a 10th-place finish in Sunday's AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway and, in the process, inherited the lead in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings. The black and pink Chevrolet was fast early in Sunday's 400-mile race as Harvick quickly made forward progress from the 22nd starting spot, moving into the top 10 within the first 30 laps of the race. The handling on the No. 29 racer was so good at the beginning of the race that crew chief Gil Martin elected to not make any changes during their first pit stop at a lap-40 competition caution. Martin continued to keep the No. 29 Chevrolet "as is" through most of the first half of the race, not making their first adjustment until the fifth caution of the event at lap 174 during which time they made a slight air pressure adjustment and fresh right side tires in an effort to provide Harvick with more grip. The call paid off as Harvick moved into second place for the restart at lap 179. The Bakersfield, Calif., native worked his way around the race leader on lap 185 to take over the top spot. He maintained the point for the next 10 laps until he relinquished the lead on lap 195. While two-tire pit stops helped the team secure track position, it created a loose-handling condition later in the run for the Rheem 'Chasing the Cure' Chevrolet and as a result, dropped Harvick back to sixth place by lap 204. During their next four tire pit stop on lap 244, Martin called for a track bar adjustment in an effort to tighten up the racer. Harvick was running in the 10th position when the eighth caution of the race waved at lap 299 as he was still battling a loose-handling condition. This time around, Martin called for chassis and air pressure adjustments, four tires and fuel during the stop and the Rheem team sent Harvick back out on the track in 14th place for the restart. The 18-time Sprint Cup Series race winner climbed to the 11th position when the ninth caution was displayed at lap 351, then joined the majority of the lead lap cars for a visit down pit road. Many two-tire stops took place up and down pit road including that of the No. 29 Rheem 'Chasing the Cure' team, lining up Harvick in fifth place for the restart. Green-flag racing resumed at lap 358, but the loose-handling condition resurfaced on the No. 29 Chevrolet as the laps wound down and ultimately dropped Harvick to 10th position by the time the checkered flag waved.
Start - 22 Finish - 10 Laps Led - 10 Points - 1
KEVIN HARVICK QUOTE: "Obviously we circled this race (Dover) as a place to overcome some things, and the Rheem 'Chasing the Cure' team did a good job today. We were just so loose on two tires, which is kind of backwards from what it should be, but we had to put two tires on there at the end to protect the track position side of it. So all in all it was okay."
Burton, Cat Team Rally for 11th-Place Finish at the Monster Mile
The Caterpillar Racing team bounced back from an unfortunately-timed caution at the halfway point of the AAA 400 to record an 11th-place finish at the "Monster Mile." Jeff Burton's qualifying effort Saturday was the 13th-quickest of the 44 drivers attempting to compete in Sunday's 400-lap event at Dover International Speedway. A tight-handling race car and multiple cautions in the first 110 laps on the high-banked one-mile concrete oval found Burton running 17th when he came down pit lane for a green-flag pit stop on lap 110. The afternoon's fourth caution waved at lap 137 and, due to different pit strategies, Burton stayed out and assumed the lead when racing resumed. A misstep in the pits on lap 175 dropped the team to 22nd but, because of the different strategy, Burton reclaimed the top spot by lap 253 when he stayed out late before making a second green-flag stop. Unfortunately, another caution flag slowed the field just two laps later, putting the Cat Chevy one lap down to the leaders. The good news was that he was given the Lucky Dog pass and, though in 21st on the restart, Burton was again on the lead lap. A two-tire pit stop on lap 302 got the No. 31 out in the 11th spot for the restart. Burton ran as high as fifth and as low as 13th over the final 94 laps to earn an 11th-place finish.
Start - 13 Finish - 11 Laps Led - 8 Points - 24
JEFF BURTON QUOTE: "Unfortunately, we didn't do ourselves too many favors in the pits today but the Caterpillar Racing team rallied when we needed to and got a decent finish. We were tight off the corners early on but were actually a little loose at the end of the race."
Bowyer Posts 11th Top-10 Finish of 2011 at Dover
Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet team ran strong for 400 laps and capped off the day with a top-10 finish in the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway. Starting from the 27th position, the Richard Childress Racing driver was happy with the balanced setup on his No. 33 Chevrolet and worked his way into the 20th position before a competition caution was displayed on lap 40. After taking four fresh Goodyear tires and Sunoco E15 fuel, the Emporia, Kan. native continued his ascent through the 43-car field, entering the top 15 by lap 125 and the top 10 by the halfway point of the race. Rain showers around the Dover, Del.-based facility continued to threaten the outcome of the race, but with the exception of a few brief caution flags for light rain throughout the day, weather was never a major issue. Working his way into the top five after a blistering four-tire green-flag pit stop by the "Helping Hands" pit crew, the four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winner began to fight a tight-handling condition on his racer in the beginning of long runs. After around 25-30 laps under green-flag conditions, the handling Improved on the red and yellow machine and Bowyer was able to race competitively in the top 10 for the remainder of the 400-mile event. The "Helping Hands" pit crew, once again, reeled off another strong four-tire pit stop late in the race with under 50 laps remaining before the final caution flag of the day waved at lap 363. The 32-year-old driver restarted eighth with 35 laps to go and climbed to as high as sixth with 30 laps to go before crossing the checkered flag in the eighth position for his 11th top-10 finish of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. With the strong finish, Bowyer remains 13th in NSCS driver championship point standings.
Start - 27 Finish - 8 Laps Led - 0 Points - 13
CLINT BOWYER QUOTE: "It was a really strong run today for the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper team, especially starting deep in the field. Shane (Wilson, crew chief) called a good race and the pit crew was awesome today. I think we gained positions on every pit stop. I just couldn't get by those guys in the end."