Richard Childress Racing race report

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Richard Childress Racing race report

Martinsville

Story Highlights

  • First Martinsville RCR since 1995
  • Harvick gets back to back Cup wins

RCR Race Highlights

* RCR teammates finished first (Kevin Harvick), ninth (Clint Bowyer), 24th (Jeff Burton) and 38th (Paul Menard).

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

Photo by: Motorsport.com / ASP Inc.

* Harvick's win gave RCR its first Sprint Cup Series victory at Martinsville Speedway since Dale Earnhardt's win in 1995.

* Harvick recorded his 16th Sprint Cup Series career win and his first Sprint Cup Series victory at Martinsville Speedway.

* This is the fist time Harvick has scored back-to-back wins since the 2006 Sprint Cup Series season.

* In 14 Sprint Cup Series races under the RCR banner, Burton has been running at the end of all events at the paper clip-shaped oval with the lone exception being October 2006.

* Burton has finished in the top 25 in the last nine races at Martinsville Speedway.

* Sunday's finish is Menard's first early-exit from a race at Martinsville in his NSCS career.

* Menard is posted at 13th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings. He is tied with Jeff Gordon (12th) and remains only 11 points out of 10th.

* The next Sprint Cup Series race is the Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday, April 9, televised live on Fox and broadcast live on the Performance Racing Network and Sirius XM Satellite Radio beginning at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

* Bowyer improved one position, to 16th, in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings

* Bowyer has two top-10 finishes in the last two NSCS races

* Bowyer earned a bonus point by leading three times for 91 laps

***

Menard and the No. 27 NIBCO/Menards Team Exit Martinsville Early and Disappointed with 38th-place Finish

After starting from the 16th position, Paul Menard rallied from early setbacks in the Goody's Fast Relief 500 to climb back into the top 15. He was running there when his Chevrolet was struck from behind and turned into the outside wall. Damaged sustained from further contact on track caused the motor to expire, ending the day early for the No. 27 NIBCO/Menards team, relegating Menard to a 38th-place finish at Martinsville Speedway. Beginning the 500-lap event from the outside of the eighth row, and while stranded on the high side, Menard was quickly shuffled backwards. He reported to crew chief Slugger Labbe that he was wrestling an extremely loose-handling car around the 0.526-mile speedway. During the lap-52 caution period, Menard brought the No. 27 Chevrolet Impala to pit road for adjustments. The team quickly serviced the car and made repairs to the rear fender, which had been damaged by contact in the bumper-to-bumper racing. After the changes, the car's handling was much improved. Menard continued to slowly climb through the field, returning to the lead lap as a result of being in the Lucky Dog position when the yellow flag waved on lap 175. As the laps clicked by, he continued to pick up positions. Following a nearly 25-minute red-flag session, during which track officials repaired heavy damage to the turn three wall from a hard hit by the No. 56 car, Menard remained on track and restarted in 17th. The yellow flagged was waved only a few laps later and the No. 27 car was placed in the 15th position for the lap-237 restart. On lap 240, Menard was tagged from behind and sent spinning into the turn one wall. He drove the car to pit road for repairs. The Labbe-led crew quickly treated the damaged car and returned him to the race track to resume the race in 27th on lap 248. Twelve circuits later, Menard reported that he thought he was losing the engine. He brought the No. 27 Chevrolet to pit road where the NIBCO/Menards crew assessed the situation. Labbe instructed his driver to bring the car to the garage where they would attempt to make repairs and return him to the race track. After further investigation, the No. 27 car retired from the race with 261 laps logged and Menard was credited with a finishing position of 38th.

"It's just a disappointing day for everyone on the No. 27 NIBCO/Menards team

Paul Menard

PAUL MENARD QUOTE:

"It's just a disappointing day for everyone on the No. 27 NIBCO/Menards team. We started out really loose on entry but the team made adjustments on the first pit stop that helped the car a lot. We just kept at it and finally got back on the lead lap as the Lucky Dog. We had moved up to 15th when we got tagged by the (No.) 2 car. It pretty much was downhill from there. The guys patched the car up and I think we could have salvaged a decent finish except that about 10 laps later, the engine started to go. I'm not sure if it was the spin or contact with the No. 7 car after that, but we ended up with a hole in the radiator and had already done too much damage by the time I brought it into the garage. It's frustrating, of course, but we'll just turn our focus to Texas (Motor Speedway) next week."

***

Harvick, No. 29 Team Return to Victory Lane for the Second Time this Season

Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet team scored back-to-back wins by capturing the victory in Sunday's Goody's Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. For the second week in a row, Harvick saved the best for last and passed Dale Earnhardt Jr. with only four laps remaining in the event to pick up his 16th career win in Sprint Cup Series competition. Harvick started Sunday's race from the ninth position, but fell back to 25th just 30 laps into the race as he told the team that the car's handling was loose. Crew chief Gil Martin called him to pit road at lap 54 for fresh tires and major adjustments to improve the car's handling. While the changes helped, Harvick was only able to get up to 17th before the red flag waved for officials to make repairs to the track wall following a wreck at lap 220. The field took the green flag at lap 229 and Harvick restarted 16th. Just two laps later, the caution flag waved again, but this time the No. 29 Budweiser sustained damage as the field checked up. Harvick brought the car to pit road for new right-side tires and repairs to the right-front fender. Harvick restarted in the 25th position at lap 238. Two laps later, he narrowly avoided yet another accident in turns one and two, and restarted in the 21st position at lap 247. Harvick continued to battle the handling on the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet and was running in the 23rd position when the leaders started hitting pit road at lap 315 for green-flag pit stops. Martin had Harvick stay out until he led at lap 335. The caution flag waved again on lap 351, leaving only 11 cars on the lead lap. Harvick and Martin decided to stay out and get waved around with the other lap-down cars, placing the No. 29 team back on the lead lap with 140 laps to go. After the field went back to green, Harvick worked his way up two spots to 16th and radioed to the team that the car was "pretty good." When he brought the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet back to pit road at lap 372, Martin called for a two-tire stop to gain track position. Harvick restarted 10th at lap 376 and remained inside the top 10 for the rest of the race. He passed Denny Hamlin for fourth at lap 438 and got by Jeff Gordon for third at lap 455. The caution flag waved for the final time at lap 465, setting teams up for the final pit stop of the day. The No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet team changed four tires and added fuel to the car and came off pit road in third position. The No. 48 car was called for speeding when entering pit road, and had to serve a penalty, placing Harvick second on the final restart at lap 471. Harvick got hung up in the outside groove and lost several positions before he could get back down to the bottom. However, once he got back in his rhythm, Harvick quickly started working his way back to the front. The No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet moved into second position at lap 487 and Harvick wasted no time in chasing down the No. 88 Chevrolet of Earnhardt Jr. Harvick made his move at lap 496 and was able to clear the No. 88 to take over the top spot. He extended his lead in the closing laps and took the checkered flag with a 0.727-second margin of victory.

We started the race and our car was really, really loose.

Kevin Harvick

KEVIN HARVICK QUOTES:

Harvick on the win: "It was just a crazy day for us. We started the race and our car was really, really loose. We came in and made a lot of adjustments, made it a little bit better and we kept working on it and then we wrecked it. And, after we wrecked it, it actually got going pretty good. But, then we started changing and making huge swings at it. It's just a huge credit to the organization and the team for keeping me sane. They kept me somewhat grounded, I think, and then we were able to focus on working on our car and getting back to where we needed to be. It was just a great character building day for our team. I don't know how many character building days we can have but we'll keep enjoying them as long as we wind up this way."

What kind of message does it send to the competition to have back-to-back wins so early in the season? "Well, I think it just shows what we are made of again today. We crashed and fell back to about the last car on the lead lap there on the first run and just everybody here on this RCR/Budweiser/Chevrolet team have done a great job and we just keep fighting. We had something left to race there at the end and, heck, it wound up going .I didn't believe them when they told me how fast it was but when we got towards the front, man, they weren't lying to me so it was pretty cool."

***

Tough Luck Follows Burton, Cat Racing Team to Martinsville

Even though Jeff Burton and the Cat Racing team bettered their starting position of 32nd to finish 24th in Sunday's Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway, the looming bad luck spell struck again and wiped out a chance at a possible top-15 finish. Burton picked off 15 positions in the opening 100 laps despite wheeling a loose-handling Chevrolet around the 0.526-mile short track. Constant adjustments to the RCR entry to help produce better tire grip resulted in the veteran driver running in the top 10 just past the halfway mark. Competing as high as ninth at lap 255, the loose-handling condition reappeared on the black and yellow machine and, as a result, Burton dropped a couple of positions before making contact with another competitor that damaged the right side of the hood forced the 21-time Sprint Cup Series race winner to bring his Caterpillar Chevrolet to pit road during the long green-flag run that had produced a round of green-flag pit stops just past the 300-lap mark. But, a quick call by crew chief Todd Berrier to continue driving down pit road after seeing another car in the wall, hoping for a caution, relegated the team two laps down to the leader in 25th when the caution never came and Burton had to visit pit road once again. Down, but certainly not out, the Cat Racing team fought hard and captured one of their laps back, and was well on their way to race for the Lucky Dog position when a restart bottlenecked a group of cars. The rippled effect left Burton and the No. 31 Chevy with a heavily damaged hood that required repairs on pit road under green-flag conditions. The 1997 Martinsville race winner was able to return to the track where he ran at a competitive pace but, unfortunately, wasn't able to make up any ground and was forced to finish 24th in the rundown, five laps down to the leaders.

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

Photo by: Motorsport.com / ASP Inc.

JEFF BURTON QUOTE:

"What can I say? Unfortunately, bad luck has just plagued our season. We had high expectations coming into this race based on how we ran last year. Our Caterpillar Chevrolet was a bit loose in the early going but it got better as the race wore on. I guess typical short-track racing got the best of us when we got bottled up after a restart and really damaged the hood. I couldn't see so I had to come to pit road for repairs and lost a handful of laps. I'm really disappointed but we'll try our luck again next week at Texas."

Bowyer Leads 91 Laps in Top-10 Performance at Martinsville

***

Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 BB&T Chevrolet team, riding momentum from a top-10 finish last week in California, led 91 laps en route to a ninth-place finish in the Goody's Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Starting from the 15th position, the No. 33 Chevrolet was fast from the beginning of the 500-lap event. Bowyer methodically picked off competitors on the track while early caution periods gave the Shane Wilson-led "Helping Hands" pit crew opportunities to tighten the car up on pit road after Bowyer radioed in that it was running loose. After the adjustments, Bowyer found himself in the top five on lap 100 and, 30 laps later, he grabbed the lead for the first of three times during the race. After giving up the lead on lap 177 under caution, the Emporia, Kan., native remained in the top five until he reclaimed the lead once again on lap 206. As the race progressed, Bowyer would lead the event one more time until the No. 33 Chevrolet, unexpectedly, tightened up during the final 100 laps of the race. Fighting the tight condition, Bowyer kept the car up front and bounced around within the top 10 for the remainder of the race, bringing his Chevrolet to the checkered flag with a solid ninth-place result. After the strong finish, Bowyer moved up one spot to 16th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.

- Source: rcr

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags bowyer, burton, chevrolet, childress, harvick, matinsville, menard