RCR race hightlights
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
* RCR teammates finished second (Clint Bowyer), fifth (Kevin Harvick), 12th (Paul Menard) and 16th (Jeff Burton).
* RCR teammates are fourth(Harvick), 10th (Bowyer), 11th (Menard) and 22nd (Burton) in the Sprint Cup Series point standings following Sunday's race at Talladega.
* Bowyer has four top-10 finishes in the last four NSCS races
* Bowyer earned two bonus points by leading a race-high 15 times for 38 laps
* Bowyer has jumped 14 positions in NSCS driver championship point standings in the last four weeks
* Burton ran inside the top 10 for the majority of the 188-lap contest.
* Burton led four different times for a total of six laps.
* Harvick's fifth-place finish is his fourth top five in the season's first eight races.
* Harvick led five seperate times for a toal of nine laps.
* Harvick continues an impressive streak of running at the end of all 21 races he's contested.
* Menard ran inside the top 10 for the majority of the race.
* Menard led twice for four laps, bringing his total laps led for the 2011 season to 53.
* Jimmie Johnson edged Bowyer to the win by a 0.002-second margin with Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Harvick rounding out the top-five finishers.
*The next Sprint Cup Series race is the Crown Royal 400 at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday, April 30, televised live on Fox and broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius XM Satellite Radio beginning at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
Menard and the Schrock/Menards Team Finish 12th at Talladega Superspeedway
Paul Menard knows that every race at Talladega Superspeedway is a crapshoot and Sunday's Aaron's 499 proved to be the usual gamble as Menard fought back to a 12th-place finish. Following a solid qualifying effort on Saturday, Menard lined the No. 27 Schrock/Menards Chevrolet up in the fifth position to start the 188-lap race. With all bets off in the closing laps, Menard found himself scrambling for a "dancing partner" after dominating the majority of the afternoon in the top 10 as a duo, first with David Ragan in the No. 6 car and then with Regan Smith in the No. 78 Chevrolet Impala. Menard and Ragan partnered up as soon as the green flag was displayed at the Alabama facility. While under the first caution of the day on lap 29, Menard brought the No. 27 Chevrolet to pit road for right-side tires and Sunoco fuel. This separated the pair, requiring Menard to find a new drafting partner in Smith. The duo found the best results with Menard pushing the No. 78 Impala around the 2.66-mile superspeedway. As the pair pitted under the green flag on lap 73 for tires and fuel and again while under caution on laps 93 and 130, their respective spotters worked to coordinate the drivers' exits off of pit road so that they could reconnect and continue working together around the race track.
I think we can be thankful that we are at least loading our car up in one piece.
It was not until a multi-car accident on lap 140 that the pair separated. The drivers of all four of the Richard Childress Racing Chevrolets found themselves in positions 1-4 for the restart on lap 144. Menard paired up with teammate Jeff Burton for the green-flag run, however, when the caution flag was displayed for debris on lap 164, the "dancing partner" negotiations began again as drivers jumped from radio channel to radio channel to find someone with which to draft. Menard and Smith reunited on the lap-168 restart but it quickly became apparent that the final laps would be the most exciting of the afternoon. A spinning car on the race track separated the pair and Menard quickly partnered with the No. 20 until the caution came out one last time on lap 174 where he found himself alone once again. In a desperate search for a drafting partner, Menard paired up with AJ Allmendinger, the driver with whom he had partnered up in the final laps of this year's Daytona 500, on the lap-178 restart. Menard fell back to as far as the 20th position but fought tenaciously to bring home a 12th-place finish in the mad dash to the checkers.
PAUL MENARD QUOTE:
"We had a really fast Schrock/Menards Chevrolet all weekend. My team did a great job with this car. We didn't require any adjustments for handling and the pit stops were solid. We were almost too fast at times since it worked better if we were pushing in the two-car draft. We worked really well today with Regan (Smith) and if we hadn't gotten separated at the end, I think we would have been up front. It's unfortunate because 12th place is not at all the finish this car or this team deserved here (Talladega Superspeedway). Superspeedway racing is always a crapshoot and I think we can be thankful that we are at least loading our car up in one piece. There are a lot of teams that weren't as fortunate today.
Harvick, No. 29 Team Capture Top-Five Finish in Talladega
Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet team took home a fifth-place finish in Sunday's Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway after leading on five occasions for a total of nine laps. Harvick started the race in 38th position and quickly hooked up with Dave Blaney in the No. 36 Chevrolet, who would remain his drafting partner for the first three-fourths of the race. The duo stuck together and stayed between 20th and 30th position for the first 100 laps of the race. Following their third pit stop of the day at lap 94, Harvick and Blaney worked their way up to the front and were running one-two at lap 100. Harvick led for the first time 22 laps later. Harvick and Blaney were separated following pit stops after the caution flag waved at lap 139.
Harvick restarted in first at lap 144 and drafted with his Richard Childress Racing teammate Clint Bowyer until the caution flag waved at lap 163. When the field went green again at lap 166, Harvick found himself drafting with Blaney once again, but the pairing was short-lived and Harvick ended up with Bowyer for the closing laps. Harvick pushed Bowyer to the lead at lap 185 and then fell back a few positions. The two charged forward on the final lap, but were beat to the checkered flag, leaving Bowyer in second while Harvick finished fifth.
KEVIN HARVICK QUOTE:
"It was a good day for our Budweiser Chevrolet. All you can ask for at these types of places is a chance to win and today we thought we had the No. 33 (Clint Bowyer) pushed to a win when they all got three and four wide. As the second car, you have the wonderful job of pushing and that's all you can do because there is nowhere to go. So, I just pushed him as hard as I could and we came up a little bit short."
Burton, Cat Financial Team Finish 16th on the High Banks of Talladega
Jeff Burton and the Cat Financial team ran in the top 10 for the majority of Sunday's Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway but, in the closing laps, the two-car tandem of the South Boston, Va., native and fellow competitor Regan Smith lost momentum, relegating him to a 16th-place finish. Burton immediately took off from his 27th starting position and placed himself inside the top 10 by the second lap with help from his then-drafting partner Matt Kenseth. However, after the day's first caution period, that included a visit to pit road for right-side tires and fuel, the 21-time Sprint Cup Series winner lined up behind Richard Childress Racing teammate Clint Bowyer in third on the lap-31 restart. From that moment on, the RCR duo proved they were a force to be reckoned with and during the next 100-plus circuits, Burton led three separate times for four laps. With 44 laps remaining, the veteran driver looked to fellow RCR teammate Paul Menard as his drafting partner since he and Bowyer got separated. The new RCR twosome kept the ECR Engines horsepower afloat and ran inside the top 12 over the next 28 trips around the larger-than-life oval, including a 1-2 score when Burton led laps 152 and 153. But, just prior to the sixth and final caution of the day at lap 174, tandems started breaking up, forcing the Cat Financial driver to lean on fellow Chevrolet driver Smith to assist. In the concluding 10 laps, Burton and Smith couldn't produce the same momentum that was showcased throughout the race and fell as low as 24th on lap 182 before muscling up some steam and making a comeback to finish 16th in the rundown. Although the finish doesn't reflect how fast and competitive the No. 31 Cat Financial Chevrolet ran all day, Burton & Company advanced three positions in the overall championship point standings, to 22nd, and sit a mere 10 markers in arrears to Denny Hamlin's 17th-place tally.
It's a definite let down but we finished the race and moved up in the standings.
JEFF BURTON QUOTE:
"Our finishing result is disappointing because of how well we ran today. The Cat Financial Chevrolet was really fast and worked well with Clint's (Bowyer) Chevrolet. Unfortunately, it's typical Talladega racing and, in the closing laps, things tend to happen and a lot of tandems broke up. When you do that, you lose your momentum and that's what happened to us. It's a definite let down but we finished the race and moved up in the standings."
Bowyer Finishes Second in Record-Tying Finish at Talladega Superspeedway
After leading a race-high 15 times for 38 laps, Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 33 BB&T Chevrolet, narrowly missed a second consecutive trip to Victory Lane at Talladega Superspeedway, finishing a NASCAR-record tying .002 seconds behind race winner Jimmie Johnson in a four-wide finish in the Aaron's 499. The runner-up result wasn't a surprise to anyone watching at home or in attendance at 2.66-mile Alabama-oval. After qualifying the BB&T Chevrolet in the 10th position the previous day, Bowyer immediately moved up to the front of the 43-car field with help from drafting partner Michael Waltrip. He led multiple laps and bounced around in the top five until the caution flag waved on lap 29 giving the Emporia, Kan., native the opportunity he was looking for to hook up with Richard Childress Racing stablemate Jeff Burton. Over the next 100-plus laps, the two ECR Engine-powered Chevrolets showed that they were the class of field, leading more than 20 laps combined and never dropping out of the top 10. After a pit stop on lap 131 for two right-side Goodyear tires, Bowyer and Burton were separated on the restart, forcing Bowyer to find a new "dancing partner" as two-car drafting tandems dominated a majority of the race. Luckily, RCR teammate Kevin Harvick worked his way through the field and connected with Bowyer for the remainder of the 188-lap event. The two cars took turns drafting with each other before making a sprint to the checkered flag with four laps remaining, moving up to third with two laps to go before both drivers crossed the line with top-five finishes. With the strong finish, Bowyer moved up two more positions to 10th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.
CLINT BOWYER QUOTE:
"We did everything we could do and the BB&T Chevrolet did everything she could do. I saw them coming in the mirror. I said to myself 'the No. 24 better block them guys', but they were too worried about racing us as we were them. Just all hell broke loose is exactly what happened, but that's what makes this place (Talladega) awesome. It was a good finish for us. I'm just very frustrated that we didn't get the win. Man, I tell you- I hope the fans enjoyed that finish. That's what Talladega is all about and that's why these people come out by the hundred thousands to this place. I just want to thank BB&T, Cheerios, Hamburger Helper, American Ethanol, and everybody on board with the No. 33 car. We appreciate it."
NASCAR Nationwide Series
* Tim George Jr. started 21 but finished 36th due to a lap 88 multi-car incident.
* A new NNS record for lead changes was established during the race, with 56 lead changes over the course of 124 laps.
* Kyle Busch earned his 47th NNS victory, beating Joey Logano, Joe Nemechek, Brad Keselowski and Elliott Sadler to the line.
* The next NNS race is the Nashville 300 on Saturday, April 3, 2011, televised live on ESPN and broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius XM Satellite Radio beginning at 3 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
Tim George Jr. Involved in "The Big One" at Talladega
I thought we had this race figured out, and were on our way to a good finish.
Tim George Jr. hoped for a solid finish in his first NASCAR Nationwide Series race of 2011, but damage sustained to the No. 21 Applebee's/Potomac Family Dining Group Chevrolet during a multi-car incident on lap 88 forced the team to the garage area 37 laps shy of the race's scheduled distance. As a result, George was credited with a 36th-place finish in his second career NNS attempt. The New York, N.Y., native qualified 21st and started the Aaron's 312 in front of a crowd of more than 67,000 people before slipping back in the running order as he searched for partners to draft with. He pitted under caution on laps 25, 30, 56, 69 and 84 for various combinations of tires, fuel and adjustments. He was running in a large draft of cars during a lap-88 restart when two cars tangled just in front of him, causing a chain-reaction that sent George, along with 20 other cars, sliding and spinning out of control. The race was red-flagged for six minutes and 45 seconds so that track officials could clean up the track. George's Chevrolet was towed to the garage area, but damaged beyond repair. He was credited with a 36th-place finish.
TIM GEORGE QUOTE:
"This is a shame. I thought we had this race figured out, and were on our way to a good finish. Even after the incident, I was hoping that we would be able to fix the damage so that I could go back out, make a few more laps and better the final finishing position."