Richard Childress Racing Pocono Race Report

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Pocono Raceway

RCR teammates finished fifth (Kevin Harvick), 14th (Paul Menard), 16th (Clint Bowyer) and 20th (Jeff Burton).

RCR teammates are fourth (Harvick), eighth (Bowyer), 19th (Menard) and 25th (Burton) in the Sprint Cup Series point standings following Sunday's race at Pocono Raceway.

The next Sprint Cup Series race is the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday, June 19.

Paul Menard, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
Paul Menard, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

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Top-15 Finish for Paul Menard and the Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Team at Pocono

Starting from the front row in Sunday's 500 miler at Pocono Raceway, Paul Menard rallied to a 14th-place finish after an early pit road penalty. With the pole sitter choosing the outside row, Menard lined the No. 27 Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Chevrolet up on the inside to take the green flag in the first of two 200-lap events at the Long Pond, Pa. facility this season. With the outside line having the momentum, Menard settled into the third position as the top-three cars pulled away from the rest of the field. On lap six, he moved back into the second spot, where he remained until the first caution flag was displayed for debris on lap nine. Crew chief Slugger Labbe instructed his driver to stay out and Menard restarted from the second position, barreling three wide into turn one. He maintained the position until the next caution on lap 18.

NASCAR officials declared the caution period the competition caution that had originally been scheduled for lap 20. The Labbe-led crew changed four tires which included slight air pressure adjustments, made a track bar adjustment and filled the No. 27 Impala with Sunoco E15 fuel. With some teams opting to take only two tires or remain on the track, Menard restarted from the 11th position. In 10 laps, he slipped back to 14th, but then began to pick off positions, moving into the top 10 by lap 39. As green-flag stops began, Menard brought the Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Chevrolet to pit road for four tires, fuel, air pressure and wedge adjustments on lap 49. He was penalized for exiting pit road too fast and assessed a pass-through penalty, costing the No. 27 team valuable track position and relegating him to the 32nd spot on lap 50. Menard continued to turn lap times that were often faster than the leader as he battled through the field, moving up to 23rd by lap 67 and 20th on lap 108.

The field cycled through two additional green-flag pit stops before the next caution period on lap 110 for debris. Labbe made the call to change only right-side tires, catapulting the No. 27 up to the eighth spot for the restart on lap 117. In addition to battling for position against cars with four fresh tires, track conditions began to change as the sun made its first appearance of the day, causing Menard to wrestle with the car on a slicker surface. Menard ran as high as 10th and as low as 17th, but climbed back to 14th before the checkered flag was displayed.

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PAUL MENARD: "Slugger (Labbe, crew chief) and this No. 27 team gave me a really fast car this weekend. I want to thank them for all of their hard work. Unfortunately, at a track like Pocono (Raceway), track position is very important and we just couldn't make it up after I got penalized for speeding on pit road. We're heading in the right direction, though. We were close to getting the pole position this weekend and we would have been a lot closer to the front in the end without the pass-through (penalty)."

Kevin Harvick, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
Kevin Harvick, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

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Harvick, No. 29 Okuma Team Earn Sixth Top-Five Finish of the Season in Pocono

Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Okuma Chevrolet team raced to a fifth-place finish in Sunday's 500 miler at Pocono Raceway after starting from deep in the field in the 32nd position. Harvick made progress in the early stages of the 200-lap race at a rapid pace, climbing to the 21st position within the first 15 laps. The only obstacle for Harvick in the early part of the race was a loose-handling condition at the exits of the turns.

A miscue in the pits during the second caution at lap 18 resulted in not enough fuel being added to the No. 29 Okuma Chevrolet. As such, Harvick was forced to pit out of sequence during the next two stops. Fortunately, the race went green from lap 21 to lap 110. By the time the third caution of the race waved at lap 110, Harvick was in sequence with the leaders and running in the eighth position. Harvick competed amongst the top-10 cars during the next 50 circuits around the track despite trying to compensate for a loose-handling condition that required a little finesse at the exits of the turns.

The fourth and final caution of the race waved at lap 154 for debris. Harvick was in the 10th position when green-flag racing resumed at lap 159 and he quickly went to work, picking up five spots during the next two laps. The No. 29 Okuma Chevrolet team made its final pit stop during green-flag conditions on lap 173, taking four tires and enough fuel to finish the race. The race ended without incident and Harvick in the fifth position.

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KEVIN HARVICK: "It was a total team effort to get our Okuma Chevy up there. They did a great job at the beginning, playing with pit strategy and we got up to the top 10 before we even got to halfway. It was a good solid day for us. We just have a little bit of work to do before we come back. We had a good car in qualifying. I just didn't do a very good job of qualifying. That is probably about where we should have finished though. It's a solid top five and we'll go on with this."

Jeff Burton, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
Jeff Burton, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

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Burton, Cat Racing Team Finish 20th at Pocono Raceway

A loose-handling No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet coupled with a fuel shortage halfway in Sunday's 500 miler at Pocono Raceway left Jeff Burton and the Cat Racing team with a disappointing 20th-place result. Burton took the green flag from the 33rd position and was scored 21st when the second caution of the day was displayed on lap 19. The black and yellow Chevrolet came to pit road for two right-side tires and fuel before restarting 13th on lap 21.

The veteran driver battled with a loose-handling racer for the majority of the event but was then faced with a fuel-shortage issue on lap 93. The RCR entry was forced to pit for fuel, four fresh Goodyear tires, which included a slight air pressure adjustment, before rejoining the competition. Unfortunately, going two laps down to the leaders while being serviced on pit road was the result and crew chief Todd Berrier quickly worked on putting a strategic plan in place. After Burton regained one of his laps, a caution was displayed on lap 112 and Berrier's strategic plan would soon unfold as he instructed his driver to stay out under caution, receive the wave around to be placed back on the lead lap and then pit one lap after the field took the green flag for the restart.

The No. 31 team serviced the No. 31 Chevrolet with four new tires, fuel and a tire pressure and track bar adjustment before returning to the racing surface 25th in the rundown with 41 laps remaining. The 21-time Sprint Cup Series race winner hustled as the laps began to wind down, gaining five spots before crossing the line in 20th.

Clint Bowyer, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
Clint Bowyer, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

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JEFF BURTON:

"Obviously, we wish we could have had a better finish, but we couldn't get the handling right on the Caterpillar Chevrolet. Our fuel-shortage miscue halfway in the race set us back and we couldn't get back the spots we lost with track position being so valuable."

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No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Team Gain a Spot in Points with 16th-Place Finish at Pocono Raceway

Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet team brought home a 16th-place finish in the Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway. After a solid 12th-place qualifying effort on Saturday, the Richard Childress Racing driver started off the overcast day working his way into the top 10 for the first few laps before settling into the 11th position for a majority of the first 50 laps. Bowyer reported to the team that he had little to no grip for most of the race, but continued to run in the top 15 for the first 100 laps while routine pit stops, most of them under green-flag conditions, gave crew chief Shane Wilson and the "Helping Hands" pit crew opportunities to improve the handling on the Chevrolet Impala.

While running in the top 15 on a lap-116 restart after the third caution period of the day, the Emporia Kan., native started to drop back rapidly through the field while complaining that the splitter on the front of his Chevrolet was damaged and hitting the pavement in the turns of the 2.5-mile facility. Wilson and crew could not determine from pit road if there was damage to the car until the four-time Sprint Cup Series race winner was able to make a green-flag pit stop on lap 142. It was confirmed there was minor damage to the left-front side of the splitter which threw the car's balance off and made it severely loose coming off the turns. The final caution period, on lap 156, allowed the pit crew to go to work on the car for an extended period of time to try to fix the damage without going a lap down to the leaders. After repairing it to the best of their abilities,

Bowyer restarted in the 22nd position - the last car on the lead lap. Over the final 40 laps of the 200-lap affair, he gained six of the positions lost during the prolonged pit stop and brought home a 16th-place finish. Bowyer moved up a spot in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings and sits in eighth place, 73 markers out of first.

CLINT BOWYER: "It was just one of those days where we couldn't get anything to go right for us on the track but still managed a top-20 finish. We gained a position in points so there is some consolation in there with that. I want to thank Cheerios/Hamburger Helper again for all the support they give us each week. We wouldn't be here without them."

-source: rcr

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About this article
Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags bowyer, burton, chevrolet, havick, menard, sprint cup