The No. 27 Sylvania/Menards Chevrolet Team Finishes 24th at Kentucky
The inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend at Kentucky Speedway was shaping up to be a solid one for the No. 27 Sylvania/Menards team, but an untimely caution during green-flag pit stops and front-end damage during a late restart relegated Paul Menard to a 24th-place finish. After posting fast lap times during Thursday's test session and Friday's rain-delayed Happy Hour, they headed into qualifying with high expectations. A summer shower halted qualifying on Friday afternoon, forcing the starting lineup for the Quaker State 400 to be set by practice speeds, putting the newest addition to the Richard Childress Racing stable of drivers in 10th position to start the Saturday night event. Menard battled with a loose-in and tight-center condition in the early laps, but never fell below the 12th spot.
A competition caution on lap 30 gave the Slugger Labbe-led crew the opportunity to make air pressure adjustments during their two-tire pit stop. The No. 27 team continued to tweak the car's handling with additional adjustments during two subsequent green-flag pit stop cycles. As the race approached the halfway point, Menard reported that he still needed a little better front turn, but felt that the track was starting to come to him. As teams cycled through their second set of green-flag pit stops, the caution flag was displayed. The cars that had already visited pit road, including the Sylvania/Menards Chevrolet, were trapped a lap down to the leader. Labbe took the wave around option, returning Menard to the lead lap, but restarting deep in the field in 18th on lap 209. When one of the lead cars lagged on the restart, it caused the drivers behind to check up. During this chain reaction, the No. 27 Chevrolet made hard contact with the rear bumper of the No. 16 entry, resulting in substantial front-end damage and creating a tight-handling condition. Throughout the remaining laps, Menard fell to as low as 28th before climbing back to a 24th-place result.
PAUL MENARD: "This was not the night we had hoped for. Track position is way too important here and we lost that when the caution fell during the green-flag cycles. This Sylvania/Menards team works hard and never gives up so we'll just focus on heading to New Hampshire (Motor Speedway) next weekend."
Harvick, No. 29 Budweiser Team Finish 16th in Inaugural Race at Kentucky
Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet team left Kentucky Speedway with a 16th-place finish in Saturday night's Quaker State 400. Harvick started the night out in the 19th position and battled with the car's handling for much of the race. When he hit pit road under the competition caution at lap 32, the team made a chassis adjustment, changed right-side tires and got him off pit road in the 10th position. Harvick remained in the top 10 after cycling through two rounds of green-flag stops before slipping to 11th at lap 138. The caution flag waved the following lap and he radioed to the crew that he was "sideways in (Turns) 3 and 4 and loose in (Turns) 1 and 2" as well. The team pitted for right-side tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment under that caution and restarted from the 13th position at lap 146. The No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet got back inside the top 10 fairly quickly and Harvick was able to hold his ground through the next round of green-flag stops. He came down pit road at lap 189 for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.
As green-flag stops cycled through, the caution flag waved at lap 199. As some teams had yet to pit, Harvick found himself in the 17th position, a lap down to the leader. Once those cars hit pit road under caution, Harvick was able to take the wave around to get back on the lead lap and restart 15th at lap 209. On the subsequent run, Harvick radioed to the team that the car was "plowing coming off and sideways getting in." He hit pit road under green for the final time at lap 234 and the team changed right-side tires and added fuel. Once again, the caution flag waved before all of the cars had cycled through green-flag stops, catching Harvick down one lap, but again as the leader came down pit road to pit under caution, the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet and a number of other cars were able to take the wave around to get back on the lead lap. Harvick restarted in the 15th position at lap 259 and got up to 12th in just two laps before the caution flag waved again at lap 262. He restarted on the outside row for the green-white-checkered restart and lost ground battling a loose-handling race car. The No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet slid back four positions before Harvick took the checkered flag in the 16th position.
KEVIN HARVICK: "We were just too loose at the end of the race. I knew we were in trouble restarting on the outside on that final restart and we ended up falling back a few spots."
Burton, Cat Racing Team Post Top-20 Finish in Kentucky
Jeff Burton headed to Kentucky Speedway hoping to add to his list of inaugural event victories, having claimed a win in the maiden NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in 1997. Instead, the No. 31 Caterpillar team battled with the car's handling throughout much of the Quaker State 400, was caught with an untimely caution during green-flag pit stops, and finally settled for a 19th-place finish at the Sparta, Ky. -based facility. With rain forcing NASCAR officials to cancel qualifying on Friday evening, the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet started 22nd for Saturday night's 267-lap event at the 1.5-mile track. Immediately, Burton realized the difference in the handling of the No. 31 Chevrolet under the lights than what they had faced throughout the practice session which was held during the day, falling back to the 29th position by the competition caution on lap 30.
The Todd Berrier-led team made various adjustments to assist Burton with the lack of grip he was facing on the black and yellow machine. The modifications worked as the No. 31 Chevy began its ascend on the board and, with the assistance of additional adjustments during the next two pit stops, Burton climbed up to the 12th position by lap 180. While maintaining position in the top 15, Burton and Company were trapped a lap down to the leader when the caution came out following their green-flag stop on lap 190. Though they elected to take the wave around to return to the lead lap, they had their work cut out for them to maintain position on older tires. Berrier called for a two-tire stop during the No. 31 team's final visit to pit road on lap 241 to try to regain some lost track position, but Burton struggled on the restart and came across the stripe in the 19th position.
JEFF BURTON: "It's a disappointing finish to our night at Kentucky. We hit on something around halfway and the Caterpillar Chevrolet was one of the fastest cars on the track at that point. The caution flag hurt us and we did what we could to battle back from there. We'll move on to New Hampshire next week."
Cut Tire Leads to 35th-Place Finish for No. 33 Team in Kentucky
Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Chevrolet team finished 35th Saturday night after cutting a tire and hitting the wall in the waning laps of the inaugural Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway. After persistent rain forced NASCAR officials to cancel qualifying on Friday and base the starting lineup on earlier practice speeds, the Emporia, Kan., native started 20th for the 267-lap event at the 1.5-mile Sparta, Ky.-based facility. Immediately after the green flag dropped, Bowyer reported to crew chief Shane Wilson that his red-and-yellow Chevrolet was very loose and needed major changes.
On the first caution of the day at lap 30, Wilson directed the "Helping Hands" pit crew to make wholesale changes to the car's setup. Bowyer dropped back to 29th after the extended pit stop where he would remain for most of the race, eventually going a lap down the leaders. Wilson and the team continued to make major adjustments to the Impala's setup throughout the course of the event, but nothing seemed to balance out the handling on the No. 33 Chevrolet. After taking two right-side tires on the final pit stop of the evening, Bowyer cut a left-rear tire and made hard contact with the outer retaining wall with only four laps remaining, causing significant damage to his Chevrolet and relegating him to a disappointing 35th-place finish. The four-time Sprint Cup Series race winner now sits 12th in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings, 15 markers out of the top 10.
CLINT BOWYER: "It was a tough night for the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet. We were just off all night on the setup and our night ended when we cut a tire with six laps to go. I'll be happy to get to New Hampshire next week where we have had prior success."
By: richard childress racing