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 80 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 ... Following the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky, Harvick slipped to third in the point standings but is only 10 markers outside of the top spot. Bowyer slid three spots, to 12th, and is 15 points outside the top 10 while Menard maintained his 16th place in the standings, 43 points in arrears to the top 10. Burton ranks 25th amongst his competitors and sits 52 markers outside the top 20.
This Week's Richmond/Menards Chevrolet at "The Magic Mile" ... Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 341 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 New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
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 and to help good friend and fellow NSCS crew chief Kevin "Bono" Manion with his NASCAR Whelen Modified team as they look to return the No. 7 Menards entry to Victory Lane with Ryan Newman in the F.W. Webb 100. Last year the team claimed two pole positions and won all three of the NWMT events that they entered, including a sweep of the two races held at NHMS. Qualifying for the NWMT event is scheduled for Thursday, July 14 at 4:45 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time with the 100-lap race kicking off at 1:10 p.m. on Saturday, July 16.
Returning to their New England Roots ... As NASCAR's premier series heads to New Hampshire, a few members of the No. 27 Richmond/Menards team will be as close to home as their travels take them. Crew chief Richard "Slugger" Labbe hails from Saco, Maine and front tire-changer Erik Pringle calls Sharon, Vt. his hometown.
You had a good run at Phoenix (International Raceway). With that, do you feel more optimistic going to Loudon (New Hampshire Motor Speedway)? "Yeah, for sure. We've struggled on short tracks the last few years, but this is the best we've run on them in a while. Phoenix (International Raceway) is a totally different track than Loudon (New Hampshire Motor Speedway), but it does give you a little bit of confidence."
What is the key to getting around NHMS? "New Hampshire (Motor Speedway) has relatively long straightaways and tight corners. One way to describe it is that it's kind of like a large Martinsville (Speedway). You have to get as much gas as you can from the center and off the exit to get down the straightaways."
We've seen a few fuel mileage races this season, and there have been some at NHMS. How good are you at saving fuel? "Saving fuel is something you learn as you go. I haven't done it a whole lot, but we've done some studies on it - how to maximize lap times and save the most fuel. You have to know how to be the most efficient with the throttle, and I think I have a pretty good grasp on it."
How much contact do you usually suspect at Loudon? "It's short-track racing, so anything can happen and, a lot of times, people get mad at each other. Loudon is no different than Phoenix (International Raceway) or Martinsville (Speedway). You drive into the corner and get hit from behind, and you remember that and repay the favor later. You don't go out looking for contact but it's inevitable that it's going to happen."
This Week's Budweiser Chevrolet at New Hampshire Motor Speedway ... Kevin Harvick will race chassis No. 332 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. The team has utilized this car three times this season, earning one win (Martinsville Speedway, 4/3), a fourth-place run at Phoenix International Raceway (2/27) and a 12th-place finish at Richmond International Raceway (4/30).
Double Time ... Harvick will perform double duty this weekend at NHMS, driving the Kevin Harvick Inc. No. 33 Rheem Chevrolet in Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series race. The New England 200 will air live on ESPN at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time and radio coverage will be provided by PRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.
What do you like about racing at New Hampshire? "I always look forward to going to New Hampshire. I like this 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 bite you need up off the corner."
What's the key to running well at New Hampshire Motor Speedway? "It's one of those places where you have to get through the center of the corner and get up off the corner wide open. That makes it really hard to get through the center of the corner and turn good like you need to. Getting up off the corner under full power without getting loose is really tricky. Passing is harder there than at most places because it's so hard to make your car work getting up off the corner. That makes track position probably the most important thing at New Hampshire."
This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet at New Hampshire Motor Speedway ... Jeff Burton will pilot Chassis No. 323 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Built new for 2010, this RCR Chevrolet was put through its first paces at Kansas Speedway last October where the South Boston, Va., native was credited with an 18th-place finish after starting 23rd. Burton then raced this No. 31 racer at Phoenix International Raceway earlier this season and was credited with a 26th-place effort after being involved in a multi-car incident just 60 laps into the 312-lap showdown. Most recently, this RCR entry ran competitively at Richmond International Raceway where Burton drove it to a 16th-place result.
Record Holder ... Burton holds the most track records at NHMS - most wins (four), most laps led by a race winner (300 - September 2000), least laps led by a race winner (two - July 1999) and track race record (Time 2:42:35, Speed 117.134 mph - July 1997).
Where It All Began ... NHMS is the site of Burton's first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start on July 11, 1993. The 44-year-old driver started sixth and finished 37th, driving Filbert Martocci's No. 0 entry. Since then, Burton has recorded six poles, 21 wins, 128 top fives, 237 top 10s and has led 6,413 laps in 601 races throughout 18 seasons in NASCAR's senior circuit.
In last year's races at Loudon, you had promising top-five runs diminish in the closing laps for different circumstances (late-race incident and fuel strategy). How do you enter this weekend's race? "It's a clean slate when we go back to Loudon this weekend. That's one thing about this sport - you have to move on and not dwell on what happened in the past. We have, certainly, been in great positions to have good finishes and even possibly a win but the way we look at it is we would have to do something different anyways. Tires, track conditions and cars change. You always want to learn and apply what you learned in the past because it's important but, at the same time, you have to look ahead and figure out how to be better."
It seems as though there is a lot of contact between the drivers on the race track at Loudon. "Some races are pretty calm at Loudon and some are pretty aggressive. Restarts are definitely tough. The cars slide around a lot and its one of the places we go to that is hard to have good, clean restarts because the cars don't make a lot of grip for the first three or four laps. A lot of times, you see contact on the restarts but, short of that, it's a pretty typical race track."
The Cat Racing team has struggled somewhat this year. What's been your mindset this season? "It's important to separate what is truly out of you and your teams control and what was in everyone's control. When you really, truly separate it, it's easier to deal with. When you start attributing everything to bad luck, you've taken control of your destiny out of your hands. That's exceptionally hard to deal with because, even if you are the best driver with the best pit crew and crew chief, you still aren't going to win because it's not in your control. You have to recognize the areas you need to improve in and you have to recognize the areas you couldn't control. The stuff that you really and truly couldn't control you'll find are a lot less than the ones you can (control). So, if you are willing to learn and be better, to me, that mindset gets you through the tough times. If you believe in yourself and the group that you work with then when things are tough and it's a bad day, you'll get through it. That's what helps me."
This Week's Good Sam Club Chevrolet at New Hampshire Motor Speedway ... Clint Bowyer will pilot chassis No. 365 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 Magic Mile."
Milestone ... The 32-year-old Bowyer will make his 200th-career start in NASCAR's elite division on Sunday. He has amassed four wins, 30 top-five finishes, 87 top-10 finishes and two poles in six full-time Sprint Cup Series seasons with RCR.
Points Racing ... After back-to-back DNFs (Did Not Finish), Bowyer currently sits 12th in the 2011 NSCS driver championship point standings, 15 markers out of the top 10 and 110 points behind leader Kyle Busch.
You won at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last September. It was a great win on Sunday and then on Monday the penalty happened. What is your perspective looking back on all of it? "The way I look back on that deal is it was a bum deal. I truly believe that in my heart. We were warned and we fixed that car to the best of our knowledge. I mean 0.0060 of an inch, come on. They're looking that close on a chassis and not an aero deal or anything like that, just a chassis. It is what it is. That's my opinion on it. New Hampshire is actually a fun track. We've won there before last year too. The chassis isn't what won me that race though. Tony Stewart running out of gas won me that race. A lot of people don't remember that, but I do."
With two wins at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, it has to feel good going back there. "Oh it does. Loudon is a really good track for us. I get around there well. I've always been able to run well there. I don't know why, but it just kind of suits my driving style. I enjoy racing there."
How much contact do you expect? "Not much if you expect to have a good run. You better not expect too much. You have to take care of your equipment and keep the fenders on it if you want to win the race."
What do you need to do well there? Is there a certain part of the track you need to run well at? "You really have to roll through the center and beat everyone to the throttle. If you can do that, you're going to be good all day long. That's what you practice on throughout the weekend. You need roll through the center, pick up the throttle and stay in the gas. If you get to the gas, and the car breaks loose on you up off the corner and you have to come off of it then get back in it, you're no good. You have to be able to roll through the corner and stay on the gas up off."
By: richard childress racing