Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Budweiser team picked up their second win of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, driving to Victory Lane following the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
In an effort to combat the handling issues Harvick was facing, the Budweiser pit crew made adjustments through the course of multiple four-tire pit stops. Harvick broke into the top 10 during the lap-131 restart, following a 27-minute break in the action for track workers to clean up debris on the racing surface from a fallen overhead camera cable.
As the race progressed, Harvick continued to methodically work his way through the field settling into the top five prior to the caution flag being displayed on lap 259. The Richard Childress Racing driver remained near the front of the field during the final laps taking the lead on two occasions before the yellow flag waved on lap 386.
Crew chief Gil Martin called Harvick to pit road for right-side tires and fuel under caution, positioning the Budweiser Chevrolet in second for the lap-389 restart. As green-flag racing resumed, Harvick moved back out front and led the field to the checkered flag. Following Harvick's second win of the season, he gained three positions in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings, moving up to seventh.
Kevin Harvick (Start - 15 / Finish - 1 / Laps Led - 28 / Points - 7th): "First off, I want to say I hope everybody is okay from that cable. That was quite a weird incident there. Second, I want to just say thank you to all the guys at Richard Childress Racing. To win at Charlotte (Motor Speedway) is something that we had to overcome for a long time. We kind of won it on gas mileage last time, and we just went and won it this time.
I have to thank everybody from Budweiser, Sprint, all the fans, Jimmy John's, Hunt Brothers Pizza and Rheem. We've got this great promotion with Folds of Honor on the car this weekend and the paint scheme resembles Budweiser's special beer cans. Plus, five cents from every can goes to Folds of Honor."
Jeff Burton Survives Coca-Cola 600, Finishing 12th
Jeff Burton and the No. 31 Cheerios Chevrolet team finished 12th in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Burton qualified 27th for the longest race on the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule and, while battling a tight-handling race car, climbed into the top 25 for the first portion of the 400-lap marathon.
With an early long green-flag run, crew chief Luke Lambert and the No. 31 pit crew were unable to make planned chassis adjustments on the car until the first caution on lap 70 which was followed by a 27-minute red flag that stopped the race. The 21-time Sprint Cup Series race winner continued to run in the top 25 and as day turned into night, the car became loose on entry and exit of the 24-degree banked corners of the 1.5-mile facility.
As the night progressed, many competitors fell victim to mechanical problems and multi-car accidents, including seven and five-car pileups on lap 327 and 335 which led to another red-flag delay. The South Boston, Va. native managed to avoid the trouble and climbed into the top 15.
For the remainder of the event, Burton's "never-give-up" attitude paid off as he gained valuable track position and posted top-10 lap times throughout the final portion of the 600-mile race, bringing the No. 31 Cheerios Chevrolet home in 12th-place. Burton now sits 21st in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.
Jeff Burton (Start - 27 / Finish -12 / Laps Led - 0 / Points - 21st): "We pretty much fought a tight-handling condition for the entire race, especially in the middle of the corners. These No. 31 guys never gave up and we managed to stay out of trouble while bringing home a clean race car and a top-15 finish. I also want to say congratulations to our RCR teammate Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 team on their victory."
Menard Earns Hard Fought 13th-Place Finish in Prestigious Coca-Cola 600
Starting from the 22nd position, Paul Menard and the No. 27 Serta/Menards team faced handling issues and late-race damage in Sunday night's 600-mile event, earning a 13th-place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway. In the early laps of the event, Menard gained several positions and was running 16th by lap 75.
Communicating to crew chief "Slugger" Labbe that the No. 27 machine was loose on entry and tight through the center of the corners, Menard came into the pits at lap 115 for four fresh tires, fuel and a variety of chassis adjustments. Shortly after pitting, a cable supporting the overhead television camera on the frontstretch fell and landed on the track surface damaging several cars and bringing out the red flag on lap 127.
The downed wire cut the right-rear tire on the No. 27 machine and the crew went to work changing four tires and adding fuel during a 15-minute red-flag period given to the teams by NASCAR officials to make repairs. Restarting 20th, Menard quickly made his way to 15th by lap 153.
Continuing to fight a loose condition though the center of the corners, Labbe called for an array of chassis adjustments on the ensuing pit stops in an attempt to remedy the cars handling condition. The series of adjustments provided some relief to the Eau Claire, Wis., native and he was running in eighth when a multi-car incident on lap 335 caused right-front fender damage to the Serta/Menards Chevrolet.
The pit crew made repairs during two separate visits to pit road and Menard restarted 15th with 63 laps to go. During a round of green-flag pit stops, Labbe elected to leave his driver on track to lead lap 381 before pitting for right-side tires and fuel. Pitting under green, Menard fell a lap down to the leader.
As luck would have it, the caution-flag was displayed just two laps later allowing the 31-year-old driver to be credited with the "Lucky Dog", placing him back on the lead lap in 13th for the ensuing restart. With 11 laps remaining in the 400-lap event, Menard was able to maintain his position and finish 13th in the longest race of the season.
Menard's 13th-place effort in the Coca-Cola 600 moves him up two positions, placing him eighth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.
Paul Menard (Start - 22 / Finish - 13 / Laps Led - 1 / Points - 8th): "It was a tough day for the No. 27 Serta/Menards crew. We had a pretty good car early on and began to struggle with the handling as the night went on and the track conditions changed.
The late race damage to the right front put us behind a little, but I have to give my team credit because they never gave up and made the repairs we needed to get back out and be competitive. We just ran out of laps at the end, but we'll take a top 13 and a good points night."
Richard Childress Racing