Richard Childress Racing heads for the Michigan hills

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Richard Childress Racing press release

RCR in Motor City ... In 123 starts at MIS, RCR has earned three wins - two of them with Dale Earnhardt (June 1987 and June 1990) and the most recent victory with Kevin Harvick (August 2010). Additionally, RCR boasts 17 top-five and 41 top-10 finishes with 10 different drivers including Childress, a former driver in NASCAR's top division, who recorded top 10s at Michigan in June 1978 and August 1979.

Paul Menard
Paul Menard

Photo by: Adriano Manocchia

Get to the Points ... Following the Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen, Harvick advanced one spot in the championship point standings, to fourth, and gained six markers on the leader. He now sits 14 points outside of the top spot. Bowyer also gained one position in the points rundown, to 11th, and is now 25 points in arrears to the top-10 cutoff with four races remaining before the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup commences. Menard moved to 15th in the standings where he now sits 60 markers on the cuff of the top 10 while Burton maintained his 24th-place position but was able to make ground on cracking the top 20 by moving within 61 points of Juan Pablo Montoya's tally.

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Paul Menard No. 27 Duracell/Menards Chevrolet Impala

This Week's Duracell/Menards Chevrolet at MIS ... Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 326 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This No. 27 Chevrolet Impala was a brand new addition to the RCR fleet for the 2011 season and was last seen in competition on track at Michigan International Speedway in June where Menard brought home a fourth-place result after starting from ninth. This car was also raced this year at Bristol Motor Speedway where the Eau Claire, Wis., native started fourth and finished fifth and during the non-points Sprint Showdown at Charlotte Motor Speedway where he started third and finished 11th.

By the Numbers in the Irish Hills ... In 10 career NSCS starts at the two-mile oval, Menard has finished each of his contested races and completed 97.8 percent of his laps (1,961 of 2,006), leading for seven circuits. He has an average starting position of 28.8 and a 23rd-place average finishing position. He recorded both his best start (ninth) and his best finish (fourth) during his last visit to the Brooklyn, Mich.-based facility (June 2011). He also owns two top fives, five top-10 finishes and one pole award in six NASCAR Nationwide Series starts at MIS.

Happy Birthday, Paul ... The 2011 Brickyard 400 winner will celebrate his 31st birthday this Sunday (August 21).

Menard is qualified for the Sprint Summer Showdown ... With his victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Menard was crowned the first qualifier for the Sprint Summer Showdown presented by HTC EVO 3D. The Summer Showdown puts $3 million on the line for drivers, their charities and one lucky fan in a six-race competition. Any driver who wins between Indianapolis and Bristol (the first five races) will become a finalist for the Labor Day weekend race in Atlanta (the sixth race). If one of those eligible drivers wins the Atlanta race, then the driver, the driver's charity and one lucky race fan each collect $1 million. Fans can enter for their shot at the big bucks each week at www.sprint.com/speed.

PAUL MENARD QUOTES:
You had an outstanding run at Michigan International Speedway earlier in the season, finishing fourth and leading laps. How do you feel about going back there? "I feel great about going back to Michigan. We had a good run there in June. I really think we can try and better that this time."

Did you learn some things that will carry over to this time? "Like any time we return to a track for a second time in a season, the track is inevitably going to be different. The weather is going to be different, too. We'll have a goodbase line, but we won't know what we really have until we unload. We'll have to figure out then what we have to adjust in order to accommodate the track and weather conditions."

How much extra confidence did that fourth-place finish give you for going back there? "We're definitely looking forward to going back to Michigan. The series is so competitive that you can unload on Friday and think that you're going to be really fast and not be. It's very humbling."

Is the sensation going into turn one different than other tracks, like Atlanta for instance? "It's a totally different race track (than Atlanta). It's much wider and it's shaped differently. The surface is a Midwest surface and it's been through some hard winters. It's just a totally different race track."

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Kevin Harvick No. 29 Jimmy John's Chevrolet Impala

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

Photo by: Ted Rossino

This Week's Jimmy John's Chevrolet at Michigan International Speedway ... Kevin Harvick will race chassis No. 373 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This is a brand new race car that will see its first on-track action at Michigan this weekend.

Double Duty ... In addition to driving the No. 29 Jimmy John's Chevrolet this weekend, Harvick will be behind the wheel of the No. 2 TapouT Chevrolet Silverado in Saturday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at MIS. The race will mark Harvick's fourth Truck Series start this season and his fourth-career start in the series at the two-mile track. He has earned one top-five and two top-10 finishes at MIS in the Truck Series.

KEVIN HARVICK QUOTES:
Heading into this weekend's race at Michigan, has your team figured out enough to get another victory there? "Michigan has been a great race track for us in the past. From the driver's standpoint, it's a lot of fun to race on because the car slides around and you have the option to move all over the race track. I believe this will be the last race on that particular pavement, and while that's never exciting to hear, we're excited about that race and have a lot of things that we are working on going into that particular race as a team. It should be a good weekend."

What does it take to be successful at Michigan? "There are a lot of things just because the tires fall off a lot. You still have to carry a lot of speed, so you have to have a good handling package along with a good engine package. It's just kind of like everywhere else. You have to have the whole package but Michigan gives you a lot of options as a driver because it is so wide and you can move around and make your car work in different spots."

When the drivers come down the frontstretch and you all fan out, can you lose track of somebody that you're trying to keep track of? "I have a hard enough time keeping track of myself, so I just kind of go with the flow and wherever you wind up, you pull that thing back up and try to make the next corner."

Explain what the side draft feels like at Michigan. "Side draft is just basically where you get your car up to about the rear tire and it puts all the air off the front of your car and onto the spoiler of the car next to you. It woes it down. It's pretty simple to do and frustrating for the guy beside you or yourself when you're trying to get by somebody."

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Jeff Burton No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet Impala

Jeff Burton, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
Jeff Burton, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Ted Rossino

This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet at Michigan International Speedway ... Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 348 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Built brand new for the 2011 season, the lone event this No. 31 racer competed at was Auto Club Speedway in March where the veteran driver recorded a 15th-place result.

JEFF BURTON QUOTES:
Michigan International Speedway has been a bit of an Achilles' heel for you. Why is that? "It has been my weakest track for some reason. I can't put my finger on it. I think every driver has a track where they're weak. I've spent a lot of time talking to other drivers trying to figure it out, but the reality of it is our performance at that race track, especially in the summer, hasn't been that good. Whenever a team doesn't perform well, a driver doesn't get to say 'it's not my fault.' He's part of the problem. There's no way you can look at Michigan and say I've done well there because numbers don't lie."

Has the desire to run better for Chevrolet become a factor since they are headquartered near the speedway? "I think Chevrolet is a worldwide company. I know they're headquarters are in Detroit, but we have Chevy representation everywhere we go. I don't think of that as Chevy's hometown race. They have dealers and customers at every race track that we go to. I don't view that as a manufacturer's backyard. I know that it is, but I don't look at it that way."

Racing at Michigan International Speedway has changed. There are more long green-flag runs and people think it's going to be a fuel mileage race from the beginning. What do you think? "I think we've had these conversations about Michigan for a long time. I can remember a lot of drivers that have dominated races there. It's one of those tracks that's relatively low on grip. Low grip and high speeds combined together allows for separations between cars in the field. I think it's more that than anything. Although, I will say that Goodyear came with different tires last year and the racing was better."

The speeds from the last race were pretty high. Does it feel like you're going 200 mph? "No, it doesn't. We go to other race tracks that feel much faster than Michigan and we're not going as fast. It's such a wide race track that you build the speed over a long period of time. It's one of those places that you don't feel like you're going as fast as you really are."

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Clint Bowyer No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet

Jeff Burton, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
Jeff Burton, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Ted Rossino

This Week's Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet at Michigan International Speedway ... Clint Bowyer will pilot chassis No. 368 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This Chevrolet Impala, built new for 2011, saw action last month at Indianapolis Motor Speedway when Bowyer brought home a 13th-place finish after starting 26th.

Points Racing ... With his 11th-place result last weekend at The Glen, Bowyer gained one position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings. He now sits 11th, just 25 markers out of tenth with four races remaining until the cutoff for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

CLINT BOWYER QUOTES:
What are your thoughts on the top-10 finish you brought home at Michigan International Speedway in June? "We didn't run as well as we needed to, but we took away an eight-place finish. Looking back, we've really struggled on the bigger race tracks since the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. We have to get better, but I'm learning. I feel like we're going to have a lot better package when we go back to these tracks a second time."

How big of a deal is it from a manufacturer's standpoint to win at Michigan International Speedway? "It's a huge deal. Anytime you can win close to any sponsor's headquarters, it's big. Its huge bragging rights for them and you know it means a great deal to everyone involved. It should mean a great deal to us as a race team too."

It seems the racing has changed a little bit at Michigan International Speedway. How do you feel about that? "I don't think it's any different than it's ever been. The outside lines have opened up a little bit more. That's just from the track wearing out and being able to carry that all momentum around the corner."

This race seems to always be about fuel mileage. What do you think? "Well, fuel mileage is a big part of it, but first and foremost, you have to get there and get a handling on your race car. Once you do that, you can make long runs and figure out your fuel mileage. There are plenty of opportunities for green-flag pit stops so you know where you're at fuel mileage-wise. Michigan is such a big race track. You go very fast there, but the corners are also so wide. There's so much room that it doesn't give you that sensation of speed that a Texas Motor Speedway would. It's very easy to get into the corners. You just don't realize how fast you're going until you hit something."

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags bowyer, burton, chevrolet, childress, harvick, menard, michigan, nascar