Richard Childress Racing press release
After Heavy Damage, Menard Finishes 34th at Richmond International Raceway
With their Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup hopes dashed when contact with a competitor forced the No. 27 Chevrolet into the outside wall, Paul Menard and the Moen/Menards team repaired the heavily damaged car and returned to finish 34th in the Wonderful Pistachios 400 at Richmond International Raceway. Under a full moon in the Virginia Commonwealth's state capitol, Menard started 15th and remained in the top 15 despite three caution periods within the first 40 circuits of the 400-lap affair. He reported the car started out well-balanced but had developed a loose-in and off condition as the Goodyear tires were put through a series of heat cycles. The lap-43 restart placed Menard in the outside line, where he lost valuable track position as he waited for a hole to slide into in the bottom line of cars. Running 20th when the yellow flag was displayed again on lap 50, crew chief Slugger Labbe called Menard to pit for four tires, air pressure adjustments to the left-side tires and fuel. Over the next 100 laps, Menard battled to get back into the top 20, fighting heavy traffic and a tight condition through the center of the turns. The Labbe-led crew made chassis adjustments to the bright yellow Chevrolet Impala to assist in the car's turning capabilities. On lap 156, the team was assessed a pit road penalty for running over the air hose as Menard exited the pit box, dropping the Eau Claire, Wis., native deep into the field in 28th. While running there on lap 171 contact from a competitor,running inside the No. 27 Chevrolet sent Menard hard into the outside wall, suffering heavy right-front damage. Labbe called him to the garage area and the Moen/Menards team went to work to repair the No. 27 entry. They ultimately returned Menard to the track 80 laps later in the 36th postition on lap 251. Over the final 149 laps, Menard was able to gain two additional positions to finish 34th.
Start - 15 Finish - 34 Laps Led - 0 Points - 23
PAUL MENARD QUOTES: "Tonight's result doesn't show how hard this team worked this weekend. We came a long way from where we started in practice on Friday. The car drove pretty well tonight, we just had the handling shift with the number of cautions and restarts early in the race. When we hit the wall, the team did a great job working together to get us back on track. They made a lot of repairs in the garage and the car drove really well after that, all things considered. It's disappointing that we couldn't get the wild card, but I am really proud of the year we have had so far. Our season is far from over, though. We have 10 races left and we'll go in just like we do each week, try to win."
Harvick and 29 team Claim Victory in Richmond and Top Seed Spot in the Chase
Kevin Harvick edged out Carl Edwards by 0.139 seconds to take the checkered flag in Saturday night's Wonderful Pistachios 400, taking the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet Team to Victory Lane at Richmond International Raceway, and earning critical bonus points for the win in the process to set him up tied for the lead in the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points battle. The No. 29 Chevrolet started the night out in seventh position and after three back-to-back cautions in the first 26 laps, Harvick worked his way up to the second position, where he remained until hitting pit road under the fifth caution of the night at lap 58. The Bakersfield, Ca. native relayed that the No. 29 Chevrolet was a little tight in the center of the corner, so crew chief Gil Martin called for a four-tire stop with air pressure adjustments to the left-side tires. With several teams opting not to pit under the caution and the No. 99 team electing to take only two tires, Harvick restarted in the eighth position at lap 61 and less than 15 laps later, took the lead from the No. 17 car as he battled a loose-handling car. The black and red Chevrolet held the top spot until the team pitted again on lap 156, and the No. 16 team took just two tires and the No. 99 team beat the No. 29 team off of pit road. However, after taking the green flag at lap 160 in the third position, the 18-time NSCS race winner made his way back to the point by lap 162. The No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet held the lead for the next 50 laps, until the No. 99 car slipped by at lap 202 as Harvick fought a car that he said was "tight in the center and loose off." He continued to slide back as the laps wore on and was running in the sixth position when Martin called him to pit road for a green-flag stop at lap 245. As Harvick brought the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet down pit road, the caution flag waved, costing the team numerous positions. To avoid the loss of additional positions, Harvick then continued down pit road and rejoined the field in 18th position before coming back down pit road for service at lap 248. Harvick restarted from the 17th position at lap 253, was inside the top 10 within four laps and was running eighth when the caution flag waved at lap 284. Just two laps later the team once again pitted for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. He restarted from the eighth position at lap 290 and was running sixth when the caution flag waved again at lap 295. Harvick restarted sixth at lap 301 and quickly worked his way past several cars and was running third when the caution flag waved again at lap 308. The team pitted at lap 310 for tires and fuel and Harvick restarted in fifth at lap 313. Two laps later he took the lead in the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet. Harvick remained at the top until the No. 24 Chevrolet got by him at lap 378. As the laps wound down, Harvick told the team he was too loose to challenge the No. 24 team. Then, on lap 384, the caution flag waved for the final time. Harvick and Martin discussed pit strategy and elected to come down pit road for new tires and fuel. The No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet team made a lightning-fast pit stop and got Harvick off pit road in the top spot. When the green flag waved at lap 388, Harvick jumped out into the lead and gained some ground on the field as they raced two-wide behind him. In the final laps, Edwards began to close in on the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet and challenged for the lead. Harvick stuck to the bottom of the track and was able to hold off the No. 99 and took the checkered flag at lap 400, claiming his fourth win of the 2011 season and 18th NSCS victory.
Start - 7 Finish - 1 Laps Led -220 Points - 1 (tied)
KEVIN HARVICK QUOTE: "Everybody did a great job, and the Budweiser guys on pit road had just a great last pit stop and were able to get us the track position. I struggled on the restarts getting going with the races that we had, so to be in control of that last restart I felt like that was pretty important to get going. Our car was really good all night on the restarts, and that last run there we were actually too tight and Carl was actually a little bit better, and then with about three or four laps to go, I just locked it on the bottom and hoped for the best there, so it all worked out."
Strong Run Halted by Cut Tire Late in the Race for Burton and Caterpillar Team at Richmond
Jeff Burton and the Cat Racing Team qualified sixth for the Wonderful Pistachios 400 and appeared to be on their way to a strong finish at Richmond International Raceway Saturday night, but a cut tire on the No. 31 Chevrolet late in the race relegated the team to a 29th-place result. The South Boston, Va. native looked strong in the early running of the 400-lap event at his home state track as he maintained his position in and around the top ten for the first 100 circuits. Soon after, Burton began expressing concerns regarding the handling on the yellow and black machine, which ultimately dropped the No. 31 Chevrolet back to the 17th position on lap 180 before ultimately getting some reprieve via a four-tire pit stop on lap 187. With fresh dancing shoes, the Caterpillar driver took the green flag on lap 190 in the 20th position and began making his way back up to the front line. The 44-year-old driver took over the 12th spot on lap 199 and then by lap 225 the No. 31 Cat Chevrolet was running in the eighth position. As the long green-flag run continued, the desire for rear grip in the Cat Chevy grew stronger for Burton. Crew chief Luke Lambert made the call to bring the No. 31 Chevrolet to pit road on lap 244 for fresh tires and fuel, along with a slight air pressure adjustment to assist with the loose-handling condition. As the Cat crew wrapped up the pit stop and returned Burton to the track, the caution flag flew, trapping the No. 31 Chevrolet down a lap to the leaders. After taking the wave-around pass to return to the lead lap and battling their way back from the untimely caution on lap 247, the No. 31 Chevrolet Impala became the unfortunate cause of the next caution period as a cut tire caused the 21-time NSCS race winner to spin into the turn three wall and dashing the hopes for a strong finish. With heavy damage on the Caterpillar Chevrolet, Burton made a number of trips to pit road for repairs to finish out the 400-lap event, ultimately taking the checkered flag in the 29th position.
Start - 6 Finish - 29 Laps Led - 0 Points - 24
JEFF BURTON QUOTE: "It was an unfortunate way for the weekend to end for the Caterpillar team. We had a great qualifying effort and followed that up with a strong car in the race. We were making some adjustments along the way to make the Caterpillar Chevrolet even better but cut down a tire later in the race. I felt it starting to go down on the backstretch but just couldn't get it slowed down enough as we headed toward turn three. It's really unfortunate. We're headed in the right direction and we'll continue the fight next weekend in Chicago."
Bowyer Finishes 22nd after Bizarre Night at Richmond
Under a full moon night in the state capitol of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet team fought back from on-track incidents and no air conditioning to finish 22nd in the Wonderful Pistachios 400 at Richmond International Raceway. Starting from the fifth position, the Richard Childress Racing driver knew he had a very fast Chevrolet Impala. However, on lap nine as he was beginning his ascent to the top of the leaderboard, Bowyer made contact with another competitor and spun out in front of the 43-car field causing a multi-car pileup. The four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winner reported to crew chief Shane Wilson that he had moderate damage to the left-front fender of his race car. Under caution the "Helping Hands" pit crew went to work on the No. 33 Chevrolet, fixing the tire rub so it wouldn't affect the handling of the red and yellow machine and returned it to track without going a lap down to leaders. Restarting 34th on lap 20, the 32-year-old driver was a man on a mission climbing into the top 15 by lap 60, the top 10 by lap 70 and the top five by lap 100. Under a lap-187 caution flag period, Bowyer reported that his air conditioner inside the car had shut off, an issue that couldn't be fixed on pit road. Crew members were forced to keep the RCR driver hydrated throughout the race by giving him icepacks and water through the window during pit stops. After running in the top five for the next 125 laps, Bowyer began losing track position to the leaders. Knowing that they needed to win the race to qualify for the 2011 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Wilson called his driver to pit road under green-flag conditions early to play a different pit strategy than the rest of the Chase competitors. Seven laps later, that strategy backfired as the caution was displayed, pinning the No. 33 team one lap down to the leader and in the 20th position. For the remainder of the 400-lap event, the Emporia, Kan., native never reentered the top 15 as he fought a very loose condition on the No. 33 Chevrolet and crossed the finish line in the 22nd position. With the finish, Bowyer wasn't able to qualify for this year's Chase and heads to Chicagoland Speedway next week 14th in NSCS driver championship point standings.
Start - 5 Finish - 22 Laps Led - 0 Points - 14
CLINT BOWYER QUOTE: "The air conditioner quit about 10 laps into the race. I got under David (Reutimann) and just didn't get any room. I was trying to stay off of him, spun myself out and ended up crashing some good cars. It was kind of what I needed to be honest with you. It gave new hope and new light and I drove as hard as I could to get back up to the front and got ourselves in position, gambled and did the things you try to do to get back in the race. Nothing has gone our way this year, at least since Charlotte about half way through this season. Until you get some of those things swinging your way, you've got to keep trying and putting yourself in those positions. I want to say congratulations to everybody in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, it means a lot to everybody in this sport to be in it and unfortunately we're not. There's always next year."