Richard Childress Racing press release
RCR teammates finished 8th (Clint Bowyer), 17th (Jeff Burton), 22nd (Kevin Harvick) and 26th (Paul Menard).
Arduous Day in the Irish Hills Yields 26th-place Result for Menard at MIS
Paul Menard started the Duracell/Menards Chevrolet from the 11th position in Sunday's Pure Michigan 400; however, handling issues plagued the No. 27 team, relegating them to a 26th-place finish at Michigan International Speedway. The Slugger Labbe-led team made chassis and air pressure adjustments throughout the 203-lap event in order to neutralize the car's handling around the two-mile race track. Contact with another competitor damaged the left-front fender and resulted in a much-changed balance as the race approached the halfway point. With the handling shifted to the tight-side, Labbe called for air pressure adjustments to the left front and rear tires during a lap-104 pit stop while the field was slowed by the yellow flag for debris. After the adjustments, the sun made its appearance over the Brooklyn, Mich.-based facility, changing the track's condition and resulting in an extremely loose-handling car and Menard fell to 25th.
Gambling for track position on a lap-168 pit stop while under caution , Labbe called for a four tires and no adjustments, catapulting the Eau Claire, Wis., native into the 18th spot. The handling remained extremely loose and Menard slipped to the 27th position as he fought to maintain control of his Chevrolet. A lap-196 caution set the stage for a green-white-checkered finish and provided the opportunity for one final attempt at remedying the yellow and black racer. This time, Labbe instructed the No. 27 crew to use spring rubbers with additional chassis and air pressure adjustments to combat the severe loose condition. In the final two laps, Menard gained one position, taking the checkered flag 26th. The result dropped Menard to18th in the NSCS point standings; but with his Brickyard 400 victory, he remains within striking distance of a Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup wild card.
Start - 11 Finish - 26 Laps Led - 0 Points - 18
PAUL MENARD QUOTES: "The guys did a great job in the pits; we just have some homework to do after today. We made up a little ground on Denny (Hamlin) and the wild card. Instead of focusing on that though, we plan to go to the track each week, focus on the individual races and get the best results we can."
Harvick, Jimmy John's Team Finish 22nd at Michigan
Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Jimmy John's Chevrolet team finished 22nd in Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway after experiencing troubles on pit road and changing handling conditions throughout the race. Harvick started the race from the 24th position and raced his way into the top 15 by lap 14. The 17-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winner gained two more spots before the caution flag waved for the first time at lap 29 and crew chief Gil Martin called Harvick to pit road for Goodyear four tires and Sunoco E15 fuel. As the No. 29 Chevrolet rolled off of pit road, NASCAR called the team back down pit road for a violation as the crew had missed a lug nut on the left front tire. The pit road miscue put Harvick back in the 31st position when the green flag waved at lap 34. He worked his way backup to 22nd before the caution flag waved again at lap 52. Once again the team pitted for four tires and fuel and Harvick restarted 25th at lap 57. As clouds started to roll in and the wind picked up, he battled a loose-handling car for the next three runs, running as high as the 12th position before brushing the wall at lap 121. The team made a chassis adjustment when Harvick brought the car down pit road at lap 137 for tires and fuel.
On the subsequent run, Harvick radioed to the team that the car was "terrible in traffic and now it's tight." Martin called him to pit road at lap 166 as he noted another car starting to slow on the track. The caution flag waved just after Harvick got back on track after the No. 29 team completed their stop. Since the leaders had yet to pit, the No. 29 Chevrolet was now listed one lap down. As the lead-lap cars hit pit road under caution, Harvick took the wave around and restarted in the 24th position with less than 30 laps to go. The Bakersfield, Calif., native made it up to the 17th position before the caution flag waved again as another car got into the wall at lap 197. As Harvick came down pit road, another competitor cut in front of the No. 29 Chevrolet in an effort to get to his pit box. The two cars made contact, spinning the No. 9 car around and damaging the hood of Harvick's Chevrolet. The team assessed the damage as Harvick circled the track and elected not to pit for repairs. Harvick restarted in the 18th position at lap 201 for a green-white-checkered finish and dropped several spots in the closing laps to finish 22nd. Despite the less-than-desired finish, Harvick moved up one position to third in the NSCS championship point standings, just 39 points behind the leader.
Start - 24 Finish - 22 Laps Led - 0 Points - 3
KEVIN HARVICK QUOTE: "It wasn't the day we were looking for at Michigan. We started out with a great Jimmy John's Chevrolet, but struggled all day on pit road and it killed us on the track. We need to get things turned around in the next couple of weeks to get ready for the Chase, because once we get to the last 10 weeks we can't have any days like today."
Burton Finishes 17th at Michigan
Sporting the red, yellow and black colors of Cat Financial at Michigan International Speedway this weekend, Jeff Burton and the No. 31 Caterpillar racing team posted a solid run despite a less-than-desired finish of 17th on Sunday. Burton started the 400-mile affair from the 32nd position but did not let a low starting berth hinder him, as the veteran NSCS driver began picking off positions from the drop of the green flag. He was running 28th when he made the first of seven pit stops on lap 30, taking four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment designed to improve the handling on the No. 31 Chevrolet, which was too tight in the center of the corners and too loose exiting the corners during the initial run. Restarting the race in the 25th position on lap 34, Burton struggled with handling for the duration of the race, as large clouds peeked in and out of Michigan's Irish Hills area, creating varying conditions of too loose and too tight for the No. 31 team. He broke into the top 20 on lap 45, and was running 17th at the race's halfway mark.
The No. 31 team made their last green-flag pit stop of the race on lap 169, a routine stop for four tires, fuel and another air pressure adjustment. Burton was in the top 15 with 20 laps remaining in the race and still advancing through the field. The South Boston, Va., native was racing for 12th when another competitor brushed the turn two wall on lap 197, bringing out the final caution of the race and setting the field for a green-white-checker finish that extended the race past its advertised distance. Immediately, the No. 31 Caterpillar team's radio filled with chatter between crew chief Luke Lambert and Burton, weighing the pros and cons of pitting. The team opted for a two-tire pit stop in hopes of gaining some grip for the two-lap shootout, placing Burton 14th for the restart. As the field came to the green flag, a car jumped to the outside line and made the field four-wide. As drivers dodged to the top, bottom and middle of the sweeping, two-mile track, Burton was jumbled in the chaos, losing three positions in the process and crossed the checkered flag in 17th position.
Start - 32 Finish - 17 Laps Led - 0 Points - 24
JEFF BURTON QUOTE: "I know that's not good enough but we are going to dig out of this hole one step at a time. This was a small step in the right direction. We were racing some good cars for 12th before the last caution. Those late race restarts are just really action-packed. I'm proud of my crew chief Luke Lambert and the entire Caterpillar team."
Bowyer Scores Ninth Top-10 Finish of 2011 with Eighth-Place Finish at Michigan
Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet team scored their ninth top-10 finish of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, bringing home an eighth-place effort in the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway. The 32-year-old Bowyer, starting deep in the field in 35th position after a lackluster qualifying performance on Friday, immediately took his Chevrolet Impala through the pack from the drop of the green flag. The Emporia Kan., native found himself in 26th-place by lap 20 and on lap 45 entered the top 15 where he would be a mainstay for the remainder of the 200-lap event at the Brooklyn, Mich.,-based facility. Throughout the first half of the race, Bowyer was happy with the handling on his red and yellow machine, but communicated to crew chief Shane Wilson that the car was a bit tight as it toured the two-mile oval. Bowyer ran 12th for many circuits until pit strategy came into play when Wilson called for two right-side tires under caution on lap 104, allowing Bowyer to enter the top 10 after exiting pit road. The pit strategy paid off as the Richard Childress Racing driver never fell out of the top 10 on the leaderboard for the remainder of the event..
As the race progressed, Bowyer reported that the No. 33 Chevrolet handled great on long green-flag runs, which MIS is known for, and the RCR driver moved up to as high as sixth position. Under the next-to-last caution period of the afternoon on lap 169, the "Helping Hands" pit crew reeled off another fast four-tire pit stop while adding Sunoco E15 fuel and making chassis adjustments to accommodate the changing track conditions due to cloud cover in the vicinity. The four-time Sprint Cup Series race winner restarted eighth and worked his way up to sixth with 25 laps to go before settling into the seventh position with 15 laps remaining. With less than 10 laps remaining, Bowyer was chasing down the No. 24 car to secure a sixth-place finish, but the caution flag was displayed late in the race setting up a green-white-checkered finish. Bowyer stayed out under that final caution instead of hitting pit road and restarted seventh. He ended up crossing the finish line in the eighth position, scoring the top-10 finish. With the result, Bowyer remained 11th in the NSCS driver championship point standings with only three races remaining before the cutoff for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. He is currently sits 24 points out of the top 10.
Start - 35 Finish - 8 Laps Led - 0 Points - 11
CLINT BOWYER QUOTE: "It was a good hard-fought battle all day long. Man, that caution came out there at the end and I was like 'Oh man.' I didn't think we made the right call, but we were able to hold off those guys with fresh tires. From where we started, 35th, getting inside the top 10 and running up there most of the second half of the race was great. We had a good car all weekend long. Our qualifying effort was poor and we need to improve that. We just didn't gain enough points. That is the biggest problem. We gained, but not near enough. We're running out of time, but if we keep digging, who knows what is going to happen."