Jeff Burton and the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet team ran in the top 15 for 298 laps of the scheduled 301-lap event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and capped off the solid effort with a third-place finish.
After starting the event from the ninth position, his best qualifying effort of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, the South Boston, Va., native maintained a top-15 running position early. Burton reported to crew chief Luke Lambert that the No. 31 Chevrolet felt good, but needed minor adjustments to gain more grip.
After restarting 11th on lap 262, the 21-time Sprint Cup Series race winner methodically climbed his way back into the top 10 and was scored in the fourth position when the caution flag was displayed for the final time on lap 298, setting up a green-white-checkered finish.
On the final restart, Burton raced hard for the lead over the final two circuits and crossed the finish line in the third position for his second top-five finish and best result of the 2013 season. With the strong finish, Burton gained four positions in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings, moving up to 17th.
Jeff Burton (Start - 9 / Finish - 3 / Laps Led - 0 / Points - 17th): "Well, obviously we are happy with our finish. We would have liked to have been a couple spots better, but we had a good car most of the day and it was very aggressive, hard racing. The cautions didn't really fall the way we needed them to.
The way it worked out for us, we had to put tires on at a time when everybody in front us only got fuel and that loss of track position hurt us some. That's just the way it fell out, had it gone green for 40 or 50 laps then we were in the catbird's seat. It just worked out that way. It wasn't a bad call, just a set of circumstances."
Harvick and the No. 29 Budweiser Team Finish Seventh at New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Budweiser team collected their ninth-consecutive top-10 finish after earning a seventh-place result at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon. The California native started the scheduled 301-lap event from the 18th position and ran in or near the top 20 during the early laps.
Harvick was scored in the 17th position when the yellow flag waved on lap 203. Crew chief Gil Martin called him to pit road to receive two fresh right-side tires and fuel, positioning the Richard Childress Racing driver eighth for the ensuing restart.
Harvick maintained a position near the top 10 during the final laps, ultimately crossing the finish line in the seventh spot. Following his 11th top-10 finish of the season, Harvick remains fourth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.
Kevin Harvick (Start - 18 / Finish - 7 / Laps Led - 0 / Points - 4th): "We struggled terribly today, but we were able to make something out of it. The Budweiser team kept at it all day, and I'm proud of the guys for all their hard work this weekend. We've got a lot of work to do when we come back to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the fall, but we know what we need to fix and we'll work with our teammates to get things figured out."
Menard Finishes 17th at New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Starting from the 14th position, Paul Menard and the No. 27 Libman/Menards team faced handling issues throughout the scheduled 301-lap event, earning a 17th-place finish when the checkered flag flew at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
After slipping back several positions in the early laps of the race, Menard made his way back inside the top 15 at lap 25. Shortly after, he communicated to crew chief "Slugger" Labbe that the No. 27 machine was loose on entry and tight through the center of the corners. The pit crew made a variety of adjustments during the ensuing pit stops in hopes of remedying the issue.
The series of chassis and air pressure adjustments provided some relief to the Eau Claire, Wis., native, and he maintained a position within the top 15 until lap 206 when the team began to play the fuel strategy game, pitting on three separate occasions under caution-flag periods for fuel.
Restarting in 22nd on lap 219, Menard was able to gain two positions quickly and maintained a top-20 running position for the reminder of the race, ultimately working his way up to 17th when the checkered flag flew. Menard now sits in 20th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings heading into the off-weekend.
Paul Menard (Start - 14 / Finish - 17 / Laps Led - 0 / oints - 20th): "It was a tough day for the No. 27 Libman/Menards crew. We struggled with handling issues for the majority of the day and never seemed to hit on the right setup. I have to give my team credit though, they never gave up and made a variety of adjustments all day to try and get the car to handle better. We'll use this off-weekend to regroup and head to Indy (Indianapolis Motor Speedway) looking for better results."