Richard Childress Racing press release
RCR in Thunder Valley ... In 126 Sprint Cup Series starts at Bristol, RCR boasts nine wins - seven with Dale Earnhardt, one with Kevin Harvick and one with Jeff Burton - three poles, 32 top-five and 56 top-10 finishes. RCR-prepared race cars swept the top three positions in the 2008 Food City 500 when Burton drove to Victory Lane, Harvick finished second and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top three.
Get to the Points ... Following the Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan, Harvick moved up one spot to third in the point standings, 39 points outside the top spot. Bowyer remained in the 11th spot and is 24 points in arrears to the top-10 cutoff with three races remaining before the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup commences. Menard fell to 18th in the standings, but is 18 points shy of the Chase wild card while Burton remained in 24th, sitting 61 markers in arrears to the top 20.
This week's Sylvania/Menards Chevrolet under the lights at Bristol ... Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 356 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 on track at Kentucky Speedway in July where Menard qualified 10th. An untimely caution during green-flag pit stops and front-end damage during a late restart resulted in a 24th-place finish. This car was also raced this year at Charlotte Motor Speedway where the Eau Claire, Wis., native started 16th and finished 29th in the Coca-Cola 600.
PAUL MENARD QUOTES:
The last time the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series was at Bristol Motor Speedway (March 2011), you had a top-five start and finish. What went right that day for the No. 27 team? "Uneventful days at Bristol (Motor Speedway) are good and that was just what that day was, uneventful. We started fourth and led some laps. We had a pretty good car that afternoon. We actually had a spark plug that broke towards the end of the race leaving us on seven and a half cylinders basically for the last 100 or so laps. It made the car turn really good, we just lacked a little power down the straightaways. The car drove great all day; an uneventful day at Bristol is a good day."
How did you avoid all the land mines that Bristol (Motor Speedway) is so well known for? "I don't think we really had to avoid anything. Everything either happened behind us or on the other side of the race track. I guess we got lucky."
Explain to the general race fan how fast things happen at Bristol (Motor Speedway). "It's tough to see there. Bristol and Dover (International Speedway) are probably the two places that you get the best sensation for speed, but it's just hard to really see anything because of the banking. You feel like you have to look out of the roof to see the track. You're looking really high through the windshield when you go in the corner so you feel like you come up on things in a hurry."
Would a sun roof help? "(laughing) Yeah, it would. I don't think I'd want to end up on my lid if I had one, though."
Since they changed the layout, what changes have you seen with the racing? "The racing's great now. We are able to run two and three wide. I know some fans don't like it. If you're a fan of crashing, you probably don't like it. If you're a fan of racing, you probably do. I think most of us drivers enjoy it. It gives us a lot of room to race and run side-by-side."
This Week's Realtree/Bad Boy Buggies Chevrolet at Bristol Motor Speedway ... Kevin Harvick will race chassis No. 346 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. The No. 29 team started 14th and finished 19th in this car at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race in May.
KEVIN HARVICK QUOTES:
What does it take to be successful at Bristol at night? "We haven't really figured that out yet since the new banking and the new track design were put into place. We haven't run great. We've run ok, but we haven't got the notebook that says you need to do this. We're still searching a little bit there."
What is it like to race at Bristol under the lights? "It is a lot different than it used to be. Obviously that race for years has been the hardest ticket in our sport to get. I don't necessarily know that is the way it still is. It seems like the Saturday night race there always brings out something exciting."
When do you need to ramp up that championship momentum? " It seems like in the past, we've always ramped it up to get in the Chase. It doesn't really matter. Once you are in, you have to ramp it up when you get to Chicago and that's where the next step starts, so you have to take it one week at a time. You have to have things going your way when Chicago starts. If you have something go wrong, you have to figure out to make it right and you have to get stuff going. I'd say the guys that are up in the top-10, their attitudes will change. Our attitudes will change a lot and it won't be so relaxing here in a few weeks."
This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet at Bristol Motor Speedway ... Jeff Burton will pilot chassis No. 329 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend's IRWIN Tools Night Race. Built new for the 2010 season, Burton drove this Caterpillar Chevrolet Impala to a 36th-place finish after starting 16th at Texas Motor Speedway in November.
JEFF BURTON QUOTES:
Are you surprised that the track has been tough for you since winning there (at Bristol Motor Speedway) in 2008? "It's Bristol. I'm really comfortable there and I like the race track. We seem like we're going to run well there every time we go. However, at the same time, it's Bristol. It's easy to have bad finishes there. We have certainly had some good runs there. I've always liked going to Bristol. It's always a challenge and a lot of fun. I'm really not worrying too much about how the last few races have gone. I have a completely different environment around me right now. I'm excited about going to Bristol."
Explain how fast things happen at Bristol Motor Speedway. "Well, it's really hard to explain. Imagine being on the interstate, everyone slams on their brakes all at once then takes them back off, then slam on the brakes and take them back off. Something is eventually going to happen. That's the best way to describe it. It's just really fast. It's better now because there are places to hide. If a wreck happens, there are places to go. In the past there really hasn't been anywhere to go. It's better now, but it's still pretty chaotic."
The racing has been better lately with more two-wide racing and some three-wide racing. "The thing about tracks that we've made multi-grooved, Bristol has recently been the place that when you got underneath someone, the spot was yours. Now, when you get underneath someone, the fight has just started. In some ways, it's exciting. In other ways, it's frustrating. It's kind of how New Hampshire (Motor Speedway) has changed. New Hampshire has always been when you get into the spot it's yours, but it's not like that anymore. You have to fight for that spot."
How does 500 laps at night compare to 500 laps during the day at Bristol Motor Speedway? "There is more energy at night. I'm not sure why, but I think the driver introductions there (at Bristol Motor Speedway) are really exciting. The fans have had all day to get pumped up for the race. The lights are down. It's just an ambiance. The environment is different. It's just a different feel. It's much more like a gladiator feel."
This Week's Hamburger Helper Chevrolet at Bristol Motor Speedway ... Clint Bowyer will pilot chassis No. 340 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This No. 33 Chevrolet Impala, built new in 2011, has made three appearances at the race track this season. The first was at Phoenix International Raceway in February, where Bowyer finished 27th after being collected in a multi-car accident on lap 68. Bowyer also drove this chassis at Martinsville Speedway in April, leading 91 laps en route to a ninth-place finish and Richmond International Raceway in May where Bowyer finished sixth after a third-place qualifying effort.
Career Bristol Stats ... The IRWIN Tools Night Race marks Bowyer's 205th career NSCS start.
CLINT BOWYER QUOTES:
Having a blown motor like you did in the March (2011) race at Bristol Motor Speedway isn't the best feeling, but is it better if it happens at the end of the race? "It's never good, but yeah, I think so because all the hype and hard work leads up to the finish of the race. Seeing how it is going to play out then 'boom!' It's never good, but that's a part of racing."
Can you explain to the fans how fast things happen at Bristol Motor Speedway? "Everything happens so fast. The key to success at a track like Bristol is you have to be able to get in the car, settle down and slow everything down, including the pace. You have to think and if you can do all that, you prevail there. Some teams do it better than others. That's a very difficult situation. If your car is really loose, you don't have time to breathe and settle down. It's a difficult situation to be in. You have to slow everything down. I think that's the key to having success there"
We've seen more two and three-wide racing at Bristol Motor Speedway lately. What do you think about that? "I think that the quality of racing at Bristol is much better now than it has been in the years past. The fans want to see some wrecks and some emotions when they go to a short track, and they get that at Bristol. If you're a true fan and like the quality of racing, you also get that at Bristol."