RCR at RIR ... Richard Childress is tied for fifth with Bud Moore for car owner victories at Richmond International Raceway with seven - five with Dale Earnhardt and one with both Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer. Additionally, in 125 starts at RIR, RCR boasts 32 top-five and 59 top-10 finishes with nine different drivers, including Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Earnhardt, Jeff Green, Robby Gordon, Harvick, Ricky Rudd and Mike Skinner. Childress, a former driver on NASCAR's senior circuit, contributed three of those top 10s from 1976-1978.
Get to the Points ... Following the Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta, Harvick sits sixth in the standings, 54 points outside of the top spot, and has clinched a spot in the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup. Bowyer slid two positions, to 14th, and is 54 points in arrears to the top-10 cutoff with one race remaining before the Chase for the Sprint Cup commences. Menard remains 20th in the standings, while Burton remains 24th, sitting 54 markers in arrears to the top 20.
This week's Moen/Menards Chevrolet under the lights of Richmond International Raceway ... Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 342 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 RIR in April where Menard started 10th and, after sustaining damage in a multi-car accident, was relegated to a 37th-place finish.
Menard at Richmond ... In nine starts at RIR, Menard has finished each of his contested races and completed 98.9 percent of his laps (3,572 of 3,610), leading for one circuit. He has an average starting position of 28.7 and an average finishing position of 28.3 with his best finish of 16th coming in the May 2007 event. His best start at the 0.75-mile oval came in last year's September visit to the Richmond, Va.-based facility, when he took the green flag in the seventh position. He has also recorded three top-five and five top-10 finishes and led for 160 laps at RIR in NASCAR Nationwide Series competition.
PAUL MENARD QUOTES:
You have qualified well at Richmond International Raceway, but have struggled with finishes. "Richmond (International Raceway) is definitely a track that has been a challenge for us. We're slow there for some reason. We qualify well, but don't race well. I've always run really well there in the Nationwide Series cars, but the Sprint Cup cars are a different animal. We tested at the Milwaukee Mile a few weeks ago to work on some of the areas where we've struggled there. It's a different race track than Richmond, but has similar characteristics. The wheel loads are similar, so we played with some bump stops and .different set ups. We were looking to take away anything that we could and I think it will help us as at Richmond this weekend."
Do you think Richmond is the raciest short track? "I don't know about the raciest; I would say Martinsville (Speedway) might be the raciest. However, Richmond is pretty racy. It seems like it used to be more so than it is now. I think it was last year that it finally started to go back to the side-by-side racing that race fans and drivers enjoy there. For a while there, it was single-file racing, but now, for whatever reason, it's starting to open back up. I guess the tires are different."
Talk about the scramble into turn one at Richmond after a restart. "There's a lot of room going into turn one. You can run three wide fairly easily. The speeds are high. Richmond drives a lot like a speedway does. There's a lot of racing room, but it's a short track, the corners are still pretty tight. You need horsepower to get down the straightaways and, obviously, you need to turn."
This Week's Budweiser Chevrolet at Richmond International Raceway ... Kevin Harvick will race chassis No. 332 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) stable. The No. 29 team has utilized his car four times in 2011, earning a fourth-place finish at Phoenix International Raceway (2/27), a win at Martinsville Speedway (4/3), a 12th-place finish in the season's first race at Richmond (4/30) and a 21st-place effort at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (7/17).
Double Duty ... In addition to racing the Budweiser Chevrolet in Saturday night's NSCS race, Harvick will also be at the wheel of the Kevin Harvick Inc. No. 33 Rheem Tankless Water Heaters Chevrolet in Nationwide Series competition on Friday night. Live race coverage will air on ESPN2 starting with the pre-race show at 7 p.m. ET. MRN Radio affiliates and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio will provide the radio broadcast of the event.
KEVIN HARVICK QUOTES:
Why do you think you've been so successful at Richmond? "When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time racing at Phoenix and really from day one I've been successful on the flatter-type race tracks through the years. I think it's just kind of how I was brought up. Richmond has been a very good race track for us as a team and it's probably been our best track on paper. We've been fortunate to win there and we expect to be competitive and run up front."
Why do you think Richmond is the favorite short track of most of the drivers? "Because it is racy and you can move around the race track. The track has become pretty worn out, and I think as a lot of us were used to that sealer being put on the race track through the years where every time you came back there it was a little different every time how the track would react. It has enough speed and it has enough room to move around and race. You just get that short track feel along with that intermediate feel with the speed to get all the race tracks in there and everybody just enjoys it."
Talk about the art of short-track racing and whether it's developed at all over the last few years. "I don't think its developed like the bump drafting by any means but I think as you look at (Richmond International Raceway), it's a little bit different than a Martinsville or Bristol just for the fact that you do carry a fair amount of speed and use a fair amount of brake, but it's just different. The corners are a little more sweeping and it's not just a bottom grove like at Martinsville so there's not as much beating and banging as there would be there. It's a fun race track. You kind of get that speed and that short-track feel all in the same package so it's definitely one of my favorites."
This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet at Richmond International Raceway ... Jeff Burton will pilot Chassis No. 323 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend's Wonderful Pistachios 400.Built new during the 2010 season, this Caterpillar Chevrolet was run earlier this season at Richmond in April (started 25th, finished 16th) and Phoenix in February (started 25th, finished 26th).
JEFF BURTON QUOTES:
The 31 team had some changes recently (new crew chief Luke Lambert). How do you think things are progressing? "Things are progressing along. Although we'd like to see it turn overnight, we didn't expect it to. We didn't dig a hole that you can jump right out of and we dug a big enough hole that it's going to be difficult to jump out of. I think we've seen some steady progress and had some good runs, not great runs. We're still struggling to finish where we've run but that's gotten better. So I think all in all, we've made some strides. We're obviously not where we want to be yet but I feel like we're going to get there for sure."
Is Richmond your favorite short-track and if so, why is that? "Richmond is certainly one of my favorites. I really hope we get the second groove working in at Richmond again. The last few races we haven't had it, the groove has just been on the bottom. Richmond is cool because it's multi-groove but we just haven't had that the last few races. With the multiple grooves, Richmond is my favorite short-track, period. It's big enough to have great races and it's small enough to have great races. Our sport got into this ego thing with building big race tracks, when in fact the three-quarter to one-mile tracks put on the best racing. It's a little confusing to me why we have all these big tracks when it's short-track racing that everyone loves to watch."
Given that you've pretty much been a regular getting into the Chase, how difficult is it heading into Richmond knowing you don't have a chance to make it this season? "It's not a good feeling at all. We've been able to go there a number of years and know we had a spot in the Chase so we were able to just race. I can remember racing with Dale Jr. for the lead with 50 laps to go and it was just 'let's just go race', there was no pressure and it was fun. The point thing comes with so much pressure that it's hard to have fun. But when you get to race and all you can do is improve your points position by winning the race it really takes the pressure off. Of course this year we have a lot of pressure on us because we're running badly. People talk about the pressure and the stress of competing for a championship but heck, that's easy. Competing for 24th, is hard and that's when the pressure gets turned up. It's a completely different feel and not one that I enjoy but we are where we are in points and its reality. This is a race that we have to look at as an opportunity to turn it around in the right direction because Richmond has always been a good race for me. We have a string of good tracks coming up and need to take advantage of it."
This Week's Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet at Richmond International Raceway ... Clint Bowyer will pilot chassis No. 365 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This Chevrolet Impala, built new for 2011, has seen action earlier this season at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July when Bowyer brought home a 17th-place finish after starting 12th.
Points Racing ... Even with the disappoint finish on Tuesday,there is a scenario where Bowyer could clinch a "Wild Card" spot in the 2011 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with only one race remaining to qualify at Richmond International Raceway. He is currently 14th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings, 12 markers behind Denny Hamlin. In order to qualify for the Chase, Bowyer would need to win Saturday night's feature outright with Hamlin finishing 11th or worse.
CLINT BOWYER QUOTES:
Is Richmond International Raceway your favorite short track? "It's one of them. I think that the most exciting thing about going to Richmond is that it's the place that could either get you in the Chase or take you out of it. I'm looking forward to the challenge. That's a fun situation to be in. It's fun for fans to follow and good for the sport."
Do you realize you've finished sixth in the last three of four races at Richmond? "Yeah, to be honest, I can't remember what happened in the fourth race. We were running sixth for most of the race and the guys kept saying 'you realize you're fixing to finish sixth again.' The other place that I've done it is at Atlanta. I've finished sixth three times in a row there too. I'm not too wild about that, but I guess it's better than three seventh-place finishes."
You seem really locked in when you've gone to Richmond in the past and you always have a chance to win there. "I do. It's just one of those tracks that we run well at and have a good package. It fits my driving style and we have success there."