RCR at the Brickyard ... In 17 previous Sprint Cup Series races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, RCR has posted two poles (Kevin Harvick 2003 and Jeff Burton 2006), two wins (Dale Earnhardt 1995 and Harvick 2003),10 top-five and 22 top-10 finishes in 43 starts. RCR Chevrolets have also been atop the leaderboard for a total of 241 laps and have been running at the finish of every Brickyard 400, dating back to the inaugural race in 1994.
RCR drivers to participate in NASCAR's largest autograph session of 2011 ... On Saturday, July 30, Menard, Harvick, Burton and Bowyer will take part in the largest autograph session of the 2011 NSCS season. The RCR drivers will participate in the first session from 12-12:45 p.m. and located in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway infield Pavilion Room 1C, adjacent to the Pagoda Plaza. The session is exclusive to Brickyard 400 Race Day ticketholders and wristband distribution starts at 9 a.m. in the Pagoda Plaza.
This Week's Jimmy John's Chevrolet at Indianapolis Motor Speedway ... Kevin Harvick will race chassis No. 304 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. The No. 29 team has utilized this car twice so far in 2011, scoring a sixth-place finish at Bristol (3/20) and a 17th-place finish at Darlington (5/7) after late-race contact. Harvick also drove chassis No. 304 four times in 2010, earning finishes of third (Richmond, 5/1), fifth (New Hampshire, 6/27), ninth (Richmond, 9/11) and 13th (Phoenix, 4/10).
Do you think the Brickyard 400 has lost any of its luster in the last few years with attendance problems and other things? Is it still as high on the bucket list as a race you want to win? "Absolutely. When you go to Indy there can be nobody sitting in the grandstands and it's still Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It's still been there for 100 years and still is our second biggest race that we go to. So for us, it's where you bring your latest and greatest car, you latest and greatest engine, and it's just kind of like the Daytona 500. It's all about trying to win the race and putting it on the line to do that. It's a prestigious race to win and nobody in the garage is going to go there with any intention other than to try to win the race when they unload their cars."
When you look at your stats at Indy - you've won there and were the runner up a year ago - why almost from the get-go have you been good there? "You know that's a good question. I don't know. From the first time we stepped foot in that place, it's been a good race track for us. We've had good results there. It's just one of those places where I really like going to. All the guys enjoy going there and being able to just race there is an honor. It's flat and we've always been good on the flatter type race tracks and I think that's got something to do with it as well."
What's the key to getting around Indianapolis Motor Speedway? "Really it's just getting off of all four corners and being able to make your car turn well enough to be in the gas so you can get down the long straightaways. I would say (Turns) Two and Four are probably the most important corners because you have so much distance to carry down the long straightaways. It's definitely a challenge every lap. If it's really hot it becomes even more of a challenge. It's just a fun place."
This Week's Nibco/Menards Chevrolet at the Brickyard ... Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 364 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This No. 27 Chevrolet Impala is a brand new addition to the RCR fleet for the 2011 season and will make its first paces this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Menards is a familiar sight at IMS ... Entries fielded by Team Menard, owned by Menards founder and owner, John Menard, were fixtures at the storied Indianapolis Motor Speedway long before NASCAR made its first visit to the Brickyard in 1994. The first Menards open-wheel entry that qualified for the Indianapolis 500 was driven by another Eau Claire, Wis., native, Herm Johnson, in 1982, earning a ninth-place finish. Johnson followed up his rookie performance with another top 10 in 1984. In 1992, Al Unser Sr. drove to a third-place finish in the 500 miler. Another notable performance came in 1995 when Scott Brayton claimed the pole position for the famous race. He repeated the feat the following year, turning in the fastest qualifying lap for the 1996 Indy 500. Other well-known wheel men who drove for Team Menard at Indy include: Nelson Piquet, Eddie Cheever, Arie Luyendyk, and Buddy Lazier. With the CART-Indy Racing League split in 1996, Team Menard joined the IRL full time, winning back-to-back championships with Tony Stewart in 1996 and 1997. Greg Ray brought the team their third championship title in 1999. In 2004, the Team Menard merged with Panther Racing, with Menard eventually withdrawing from motorsports as team owner. Present day finds the recognizable neon yellow paint scheme as a sponsor of entries in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (No. 27 Chevrolet Impala), Nationwide Series (No. 33 Chevrolet Impala), and Camping World Truck Series (No. 88 Chevrolet Silverado), and the No. 44 entry in the ARCA Racing Series, all of which are racing at IMS or Lucas Oil Raceway this weekend!
The No. 27 team boasts some proud "Hoosiers" ... Several members of the No. 27 Nibco/Menards team call the "Hoosier State" their home. Spotter Stevie Reeves grew up only blocks from IMS' Turn Three in Speedway, Ind, while interior specialist Brad Tunny hails from Holton, Ind., a mere hour and a half southeast from Indianapolis.
Explain why Indianapolis Motor Speedway has always been a special place to you. "I love Indianapolis and I really look forward to going there every year. I was eight years old the first time I ever went there, and it was the coolest experience I've ever been through. I've been a huge fan of Indianapolis ever since. We would go to the (Indianapolis) 500 to watch my dad's cars race. Indy has my two favorite races. My favorite one to watch is still the (Indianapolis) 500 and my favorite one to race in is the Brickyard (400)."
Did you look at that and say 'this is what I want to do with my life'? "I had already been racing go-karts at that point so I knew that racing was something I loved doing. But it was very exciting as a child to be at the (Indianapolis) 500 because it was a big, historical event. Indianapolis has a special place in my heart. I just love that race track."
How big is it for NASCAR to go to the Brickyard? "To me, that's our biggest race. I think it's bigger than the Daytona 500. It's definitely number two if it's not number one. It's a big deal for us."
What's it like for you guys when you run through the tunnel and all the fans are so close? "The vibrations are going because you're getting ready to go out for practice. You don't really think about all that stuff when you're in the race car. That's more for when you drive through in your rental car."
Have you ever wanted to run an Indy Car race there? "I would love to, but the way our (the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series) schedule is, unfortunately, it's just impossible to do right now. I've tested an Indy car at Pikes Peak Raceway, before but have never had a chance to race one."
The Indianapolis 500 had a pretty crazy final lap this year. If you have the lead on the last lap of the Brickyard 400, do you think you could keep your concentration through the final lap? "Yeah, I think Hildebrand just made a really unfortunate rookie mistake on that last turn. I'd like to think I could keep my concentration if I was winning on the final lap."
What does it take to get around IMS fast? "A good aerodynamics package is probably first and foremost. The track has a lot of grip for as flat as it is. That track has probably the most grip than any other track that we go to. But, there's a lot of aero in these cars and you have to be able to get off the corners well."
This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet at Indianapolis Motor Speedway ... Jeff Burton will race Chassis No. 367 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend's Brickyard 400. This is a brand new Caterpillar Chevrolet that will be put through its first competitive paces this weekend.
Indy Minutes ... Burton is one of four drivers on the 2011 entry list who have started every NASCAR race at the Brickyard. In 17 starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Burton has posted one top five, five top 10s and has been running at the end of every event. His best finish of fifth came in July 1999. The veteran driver also captured the pole position for the 2006 event.
L JEFF BURTON:
What makes Indianapolis Motor Speedway a thrill to go to each year? "I think it's an honor to go to Indy every year. The history is unbelievable. There is nowhere we go where you get the sense of people like you do at Indy with the grandstands on both sides of the front straightaway. It's fun going there because we didn't create the history. We go there on someone else's coat tails. We made Daytona, Darlington and Charlotte. We didn't make Indy. It's a cool race and it means a great deal to race there. When you walk out on Sunday afternoon to start that race, it's like nothing else. The driver's introductions there are pretty cool. It's amazing to see that many people and the excitement at Indy is cool. It's an open-wheel, sacred-ground race track and the fact that we can go there and race is truly an honor."
What are your expectations for this weekend's Brickyard 400? "This race is coming off an off weekend and everybody comes back with a refreshed attitude and, hopefully, we'll do the same thing. We've sat on the pole and led a lot of laps at Indy but have never won. It's certainly one of the places where we want to win on. We ran well last year, finishing sixth, so I believe we can return with some old notes, as well as some new ideas, and, hopefully, put together a good setup for Sunday."
What are the keys to doing well at Indy? "Momentum is everything at Indy. It's all about carrying speed through the middle of the corner so that you can be fast off the corner. You have to be patient in some of the corners while being aggressive in the other corners. All four corners take something different in different parts of the corners. It doesn't look like that when you are looking at the track from an aerial view. Maximizing what you as a driver need to do and what your car needs to do in each place at all four corners is paramount. The corners are shorter than what we normally race on but there is still an entrance, middle and exit. Two of those corners lead to extremely long straightaways that offer a great deal of speed. So, hitting those corners at the right place and at the right time, and understanding what each corner needs, is the best, fastest and successful way around the track."
Clint Bowyer No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet
This Week's Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet at Indianapolis Motor Speedway ... Clint Bowyer will pilot chassis No. 368 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This is a brand new No. 33 Chevrolet Impala that will turn its first laps during opening practice on Friday at the Brickyard.
What do you think about Indianapolis Motor Speedway? "It's a lot of fun to be able to go to Indy. It means a lot to everyone to have the chance to race on that track with so much history behind it. We have to get better at that place. Our first run there was very good, but since then, we've been mediocre. We have to get ourselves back to running well on those kinds of race tracks. With that being said, I think we're bringing a new car there. We've tried to put some things together that I think will be the latest and greatest. We're hoping to get the best result out of it."
Is Indianapolis still a big deal to you? It seems like anyone out in the Midwest would think it would be cool to be able to run at Indy some day. "Absolutely, Indy is a big deal. In the sport of auto racing, Indy is one of the biggest deals out there. I think that the Daytona 500 is the biggest race of the year and Indy is the second biggest race of the year."
The cool thing about Indy is the frontstretch because there are fans on both sides. What do you think about that? "Well Jeff Burton and I sat on the front row the first year I was there. It was a great feeling to be able to lead the field down through there into a sea of people. It's just an unbelievable sight to see and to be able to soak that all in is a pretty cool feeling."
You've seen the replays of what happened on the last lap of the Indianapolis 500. If you have the lead on the last lap, do you think you would be able to keep your concentration? "If I have that big of a lead I'm lifting going into the corners. I'm going to make sure that I get back around there, I can promise you that. The biggest mistakes you learn from can be yours or someone else's. Unfortunately, through his mistake, I think everyone learned from it. I don't think anyone would make that mistake again. Putting yourself in his shoes, you just feel horrible for him."
By: richard childress racing