RCR in Loudon ... Richard Childress is tied for third with Joe Gibbs and Roger Penske for all-time car owner victories at New Hampshire Motor Speedway with four - Robby Gordon (2001), Kevin Harvick (2006) and Clint Bowyer (2007 and 2010). In 84 starts at the 1.058-mile oval, Childress also boasts two poles, 14 top-five and 32 top-10 finishes with nine different drivers including Dale Earnhardt, Mike Skinner, Harvick, Gordon, Jeff Green, Steve Park, Dave Blaney, Bowyer and Jeff Burton.
Get to the Points ... Harvick represents RCR in the 2011 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and leads the point standings by seven markers following his second-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway with nine races remaining. Bowyer moved up one position, to 13th, in the standings, Menard remains 23rd, while Burton is 24th.
This week's SYLVANIA/Menards Chevrolet at New Hampshire Motor Speedway ... Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 341 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 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (July) where Menard started ninth and finished 24th.
Lightning McQueen On-board the No. 27 SYLVANIA/Menards Machine ... Menard will have a passenger riding with him on the rear quarter-panels of the No. 27 Chevrolet Impala - Lightning McQueen! McQueen is the main character featured in the Pixar-produced Cars and Cars 2 movies. SYLVANIA is a Strategic Alliance Partner of Disney and is collaborating with Disney Home entertainment Division in the promotion of the DVD and Blu-ray release of Cars 2 on November 1, 2011.
Richard "Slugger" Labbe to pull double duty at NHMS ... Following Saturday's final NSCS practice session at NHMS, No. 27 crew chief Slugger Labbe will don his work gloves to help GP Racing in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Series as they look to return Ryan Newman to Victory Lane behind the wheel of the No. 77NY Menards entry in the New Hampshire 100. In 2010, the Newman claimed two pole positions and won all three of the NWMT events that he entered, including a sweep of the two races held at NHMS. He returned to NHMS in July and claimed the victory, but was disqualified following post-race inspection. He also entered the NWMT event at Bristol Motor Speedway in August where he defended his title, starting fourth and finishing first. Labbe will also pitch in and help for Thursday's practice and qualifying sessions. Time trials for the NWMT event are scheduled for September 22 at 4:45 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time with the 100-lap race kicking off at 12:45 p.m. on Saturday, September 24.
PAUL MENARD QUOTES:
Do you race the championship-contending drivers any different than you have in the first 26 races? "Yeah, I do. You have to be respectful of what they're trying to do. But, then again, if they take advantage of your situation, then you might think differently about it. For the most part, you have to be respectful and understand how important these races are."
Your teammate, Kevin Harvick, is in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Do you take more steps to share information with him? "No, I think as far as that goes, we'll go about our business as usual. I was looking at everyone's set ups for the weekend at Chicagoland Speedway, and it is probably the closest we've all been this year. That's a good thing because the more guys that get on the same program, the more opportunity we have to help each other out. Basically, we're not changing anything because of the Chase. We're going about our business as usual."
New Hampshire Motor Speedway seems to be a tough track for you. What are your thoughts on going back there? "Yeah, it's one of those tracks that we've gone to and felt pretty good about our car during practice, we qualify in the top 10, and then we just struggle really bad during the race. We've done a little short-track testing this year to try and help that. Especially after the last visit to Loudon (NHMS); it was pretty embarrassing. Hopefully the testing pays off. We tested at the Milwaukee Mile, which is as close to Loudon as you're going to get."
Explain to fans what it's like to pass at Loudon. "I don't think passing at either end of the race track is that much different from each other. In turn two, there's a wall that you get close to, but it doesn't get in the way. In turn four, there's a lot more room to make a pass."
This Week's Budweiser Designated Driver Chevrolet at New Hampshire Motor Speedway ... Kevin Harvick will race chassis No. 332 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) stable. This is same car he drove to Victory Lane at Martinsville Speedway in March and Richmond International Raceway earlier this month. Harvick also racked up finishes of fourth at Phoenix International Raceway (2/27), 12th at RIR (4/30) and 21st at NHMS (7/17) in this No. 29 Chevrolet Impala.
Designate a Driver ... In honor of Global Be(er) Responsible Day, a day of outreach to encourage alcohol responsibility and the use of designated drivers, Budweiser and the No. 29 team are helping spread the message with a special "Designate a Driver" paint scheme for this Sunday's race at NHMS. On Friday, more than 1,500 Anheuser-Busch employees across the United States will join local wholesalers to encourage the use of designated drivers. Adult fans can watch a video about Global Be(er) Responsible Day from Harvick on Budweiser's Facebook page and they can also take the pledge to be, or use, a designated driver.
KEVIN HARVICK QUOTES:
What is the key to running well at New Hampshire Motor Speedway? "The hardest thing is just making your car turn in the middle of the corner and being able to have enough forward drive up off. It always seems like the New Hampshire race comes down to a track position strategy call on two tires or four tires toward the end of the race. Track position will play a big part, but getting your car to handle right will probably play an equal part."
What do you like about racing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway? "I always look forward to going to New Hampshire. I like that type of track because it's flat, similar to the tracks out west where I started my racing career. There's a lot of braking. You have to really work on getting your car through the center of the corner and still have the forward drive you need up off the corner."
Do you feel any different about the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup this year? "I feel good about where I'm at personally and professionally. I feel comfortable with a lot of the things and decisions that have been made. I feel comfortable with where the performance of the car has been the last few weeks, but look, everybody's here to do one thing. There are 12 guys that want to win the championship. Everybody thinks everybody is out to get them and you have to focus on your own stuff. You have to focus on your own team. Right now, there are 500 people at RCR and that's really the only thing I care about. We're going to focus on our job and race as hard as we can and do what we have to do. We'll take it one week at a time and one situation at a time and have fun with it."
This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet at New Hampshire Motor Speedway ... Jeff Burton will pilot chassis No. 329 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend's Sylvania 300. This No. 31 Chevrolet Impala finished 15th at Bristol Motor Speedway in August. Built new for the 2010 season, Burton also drove this Caterpillar Chevrolet to a 36th-place finish after being involved in an accident at Texas Motor Speedway in November.
JEFF BURTON QUOTES:
New Hampshire Motor Speedway was the start of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup last year and you were a top-five car all day long. How much of a disappointment was it when you ran out of fuel? "That was just our year. If you go back and look at the first New Hampshire race, I thought we had it won, a late caution came out and we made the wrong call. Then we went back to New Hampshire, ran really well and strategy got us. There are a lot of things that happen like that which happened all year. It really kicked us off at being behind. We went straight to Dover the next week and ran second, but you've already given up so many points by that time that it's almost impossible to catch up. We started the Chase with an immediate deficit, but we had a fast race car. That's just a penalty you can't pay in today's Chase, that put us in position to start playing catch up and that just didn't work out for us."
Is there a fine line between running well and not running well at New Hampshire Motor Speedway? "It is so competitive today. A few weeks ago at Bristol is a great example. I looked up and there's Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart and Clint Bowyer, all good teams running laps down. That's how competitive it is. If you're off just a little bit in today's world, you're off a lot. If you go to a place like New Hampshire where handling is hard to come by anyway, then it just magnifies. It's a lot harder to run well every time you go somewhere than you think."
Is there a strategy to save your fuel and car and not use it up when you're trying to pass someone at New Hampshire? "You really have to be aware of what your car is doing and how it's driving. Sometimes, running lower than the other guy isn't hurting your tires and sometimes it is. You have to be aware as a race car driver what your car is doing and if you're abusing it or not. The problem with all of that is you never know when there's a caution coming out. If you make the decision to sit there and ride and be smart then a caution comes out in 50 laps, then you've wasted your time, and you should have been going. On the other hand, if a caution doesn't come out, then you were really, really smart. You have no way of knowing that and that's what makes these races so interesting. When that caution flies, it affects so much what is going to happen in the rest of the race."
Are you surprised that the last three out of five races have ended with fuel mileage being an issue? "We're having less cautions, and I don't know why. That has had a huge impact on pit strategies. The fewer cautions you have, the more likely you are to have fuel mileage become an issue."
This Week's Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet at New Hampshire Motor Speedway ... Clint Bowyer will pilot chassis No. 324 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable this weekend at "The Magic Mile." This Chevrolet Impala, built new in 2011, saw action earlier this season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway where Bowyer started 28th and finished 15th.
CLINT BOWYER QUOTES:
Do you race the drivers who qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup any different during these last ten races? "While you do have to give them some more respect because there is so much on the line, you still race them the same way you would all year long. If they race you tough, you race them tough. It's a two-way street."
You have two wins and some good statistics at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. What is it about that track that fits your driving style? "Flat tracks like New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Richmond International Raceway always fit my driving style. I love racing up there. It is a lot of fun. Nothing in particular, it just fits my driving style."
A number of drivers say it is hard to pass on the inside at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, especially between turns one and two. Why is that? "It has more of a progressive banking to it in turns one and two. You get down there and it almost feels like it is reverse camber. It's hard to make your car work down there."