Richard Childress Racing event preview: Texas Motor Speedway

In 68 starts at Texas Motor Speedway dating back to 1997, RCR has recorded one win (Jeff Burton, April 2007), eight top-five and 27 top-10 finishes with drivers Burton, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Green and Paul Menard.

Prior to TMS's inaugural season in 1997, Richard Childress, a former driver in NASCAR's top division, earned a pair of top-10 finishes at the now defunct Texas World Speedway in College Station, Texas.

RCR NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams boast a 20.2 average starting position, a 16.2 average finishing position and have completed 21,925 of the 22,742 contested laps (96.4 percent) with 139 laps led at the 1.5-mile Fort Worth-based race track.

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

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

In 2,264 Sprint Cup Series starts dating back to 1969, RCR has amassed 100 wins, 42 pole awards, 434 top-five finishes and 906 top-10 finishes, with an average starting position of 17.9 and an average finishing position of 15.8 among all races contested.

RCR has earned six Sprint Cup Series championships with Earnhardt (1986, '87, '90,'91, '93, '94), 14 total championships (five NASCAR Nationwide Series titles, two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series titles and one ARCA Racing Series title) and was the first organization to win titles in NASCAR's three national series.

Throughout the season's first 33 races, RCR's Sprint Cup Series entries have notched seven top-five and 25 top-10 finishes.

RCR teams have completed 29,635 of 30,173 total laps (98.2 percent) with drivers Burton, Austin Dillon, Brendan Gaughan, Harvick, Menard and Elliott Sadler. The group has led a combined 305 laps.

Following the TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway, Harvick, who represents RCR in the 2012 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, is ranked 11th, 88 points out of the top spot.

Menard currently sits 16th in the driver championship point standings, while Burton is ranked 19th.

Paul Menard - No. 27 Quaker State/Menards Chevrolet

Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 351 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend's AAA Texas 500. This Chevrolet was last raced at Kansas Speedway in October where Menard drove it to his season-best finish of third.

This chassis was also utilized at Atlanta Motor Speedway in September, where Menard started 18th and finished eighth, in numerous test sessions this year and was raced last season at Texas Motor Speedway (April - started 19th/finished fifth), Kansas Speedway (June - started ninth/finished 19th) and Dover International Speedway (October - started third/ finished 16th).

You recently tested the 2013 Chevrolet at Texas Motor Speedway. Will that test help you out as you head to TMS with the current Chevrolet? "Testing the 2013 Chevrolet at Texas (Motor Speedway) won't help us as much as if we'd had the real car that we were racing this weekend, but any time you can log laps around a race track and collect data, you can apply it to what you're doing. It wasn't as beneficial, but we learned some things."

You have finished as high as fifth at the Fort Worth, Texas-based race track. Is it a track that you like? "Texas (Motor Speedway) is one of my favorite tracks. If Atlanta (Motor Speedway) is the best track to race at, Texas is right up there with it because it is worn out.

Tires give up, and anytime that happens, it makes the racing good because you can move your car around and find where it works the best."

Talk about the challenges of getting out of turn two and getting down the backstretch at Texas Motor Speedway... "Coming out of turn two you lose the banking real quick so, you drive it really low off of the corner.

Of course, that's not always possible and the higher you get the more the transition is from banking to the flat straightaway. It's a tough place; a tough corner."

During the NASCAR Nationwide Series Race at Texas Motor Speedway in April you led 100 of the 200 laps but finished second. Is it easy to lose sight of how great of a run you had when you come up one lap short? "Yes. It was frustrating because we were leading and probably would have won the race but the lights went out and then we had a late caution after that.

But, it's part of the deal. We probably had the best car. Ricky (Stenhouse Jr.) came on really strong at the end. It was kind of a two-horse race."

What is the toughest part about racing at Texas Motor Speedway? "Texas Motor Speedway is bumpy and worn out, which is good. During the transition off of turn two you lose a lot of grip on exit.

Every place that there is a tunnel there's a huge bump and everywhere there isn't a tunnel there are still bumps, so you have to have a good shock package.

You need to have a good aero package because you're running 200 mph in turn one and trying to keep the tires under you."

Kevin Harvick - No. 29 Rheem Chevrolet

This Week's Rheem Chevrolet at Texas Motor Speedway ... Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No.404 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in the AAA Texas 500.

Built new for competition in 2012, Harvick raced this Chevrolet at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October where he collected a 16th-place result after starting from the 11th position.

Harvick will make his428th career Sprint Cup Series start and 20th appearance at the 1.5-mile track.

The 36-year-old driver has collected three top-five and nine top-10 finishes in his previous 19 starts, has completed 99.8 percent of the laps contested (6,342 of 6,356) and is credited with five laps led.

Harvick maintains an average starting position of 20.7 coupled with an average finishing position of 12.7.

What are the keys to running well at Texas Motor Speedway?

"Texas (Motor Speedway) is a really fast race track, especially for qualifying. I think it's probably the fastest race track we go to. If you're going to qualify well or win the race, you're going to have to have a car that's comfortable to drive when you're on the throttle."

From a driver's standpoint, can you feel the speed at Texas Motor Speedway? "Texas (Motor Speedway) is a really fast race track and in the banking is where you can really feel how fast you are going.

It's one of those few race tracks where you feel the speed in the car. The unique part about Texas is that you have that big speed for about three or four laps, and as you go through the tire run the speed really drops off a tremendous amount.

But, from a driver standpoint, you have a lot of options here and the race track has a lot of bumps that are great for character. You have to make your car work well and you have to get up off turn two, but you can run all over the race track.

Obviously, qualifying will be on the bottom, but when race time comes you will be moving around all over the place so it's fun from a driver's standpoint."

You haven't won at Texas Motor Speedway yet, but you've been pretty solid there... "We've done well at Texas (Motor Speedway) over the years, especially in the NASCAR Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series.

Texas is a really fast race track and the grip goes away fast on the cars. You have some bumps to contend with, so you have to keep the splitter off the ground, but as low as you can to get the grip you need.

It's a tough place to do that. If we can get everything to come together the way we need it to, there is no reason we can't get the Rheem Chevrolet in Victory Lane on Sunday."

Jeff Burton - No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet

Jeff Burton will race Chassis No. 367 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable this weekend.

This No. 31 Chevrolet has been utilized four times this season at Kansas Speedway in April (started-12th, finished-22nd), Pocono Raceway in June (started-20th, finished-15th), Michigan International Speedway in August (started-32nd, finished-19th) and Chicagoland Speedway in September (started-32nd, finished-24th).

Burton was Texas Motor Speedway's first two-time Sprint Cup Series race winner after visiting Victory Lane in the inaugural Sprint Cup Series event in 1997 and again in 2007.

Burton has also tallied three top-five and nine top-10 finishes while leading 180 laps at the 1.5-mile facility.

Burton has garnered impressive NASCAR Loop Data statistics at Texas Motor Speedway since 2006. He has spent 2,596 Laps in the Top 15 and made 1,069 Green Flag Passes (seventh-most).

Do you go to Texas Motor Speedway to experiment with different setups for the future? "That's a yes and no answer. In my opinion, every week is an experiment with different setups, especially at 1.5-mile race tracks like Texas Motor Speedway.

We want to win races now for our sponsors, but it is very important to always be looking at the future so you don't fall behind. We realize that we're 19th in the point standings and have to be smart about how to spend our money and prepare for 2013.

We aren't going out and building new cars or anything like that. They aren't science experiments either, but there are definitely different setups that we will try in this race."

During the April race at Texas Motor Speedway, there were only two caution-flag periods, both for debris. What are your thoughts on that? "One interesting thing that I never thought about until this season; when you aren't running well and there are no caution-flag periods, it really makes a difference.

You go back a few years ago, a lot of teams would run poorly, but get cautions to save them. You would have more cars get "Lucky Dogs" and there were more opportunities for teams to make their cars better on pit road.

When you don't get those cautions, you can really see who isn't running well. It is amazing to go to a track like Texas Motor Speedway that is narrow and fast and not see any wrecks. They just aren't happening like they used to."

Elliott Sadler - No. 2 OneMain Financial Chevrolet

This Week's OneMain Financial Chevrolet at Texas Motor Speedway ... Elliott Sadler and the No. 2 OneMain Financial team will unload Chassis No. 117 from Richard Childress Racing's NASCAR Nationwide Series stable this weekend.

This Chevrolet has been utilized in three previous races this season, with Sadler racing it to a 15th-place finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July after he was black-flagged as the leader, a fifth-place finish at Kentucky Speedway in September and a pole award and third-place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October.

What are your thoughts on Texas Motor Speedway? "We are coming off our last off-weekend of the season, so everyone on the OneMain Financial team is well-rested and as ready as ever to get to Texas Motor Speedway.

We had a pretty good run there in the spring, but a bad vibration toward the end of the race hurt our chances. I've had success at Texas in the past, including a win in the Sprint Cup Series in 2004, so I'd love to add a Nationwide Series win to it this weekend.

Every race, every point is important as we head into the final stretch, but we want that trophy and those cowboy hats in Victory Lane."

Austin Dillon - No. 3 AdvoCare Chevrolet

This Week's AdvoCare Chevrolet at Texas Motor Speedway ... Austin Dillon will pilot Chassis No. 118 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Nationwide Series stable.

This is the same Chevrolet Dillon drove to a sixth-place finish after starting second at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October and a third-place finish after starting second at Chicagoland Speedway in September.

Dillon earned a fifth-place finish after starting fourth in his lone Nationwide Series start at Texas Motor Speedway in April.

In four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at TMS, Dillon has earned two top-five finishes, one pole award and led 76 laps, acquiring a third-place average starting position and a 14th-place average finish position.

What are your thoughts on racing at Texas Motor Speedway? "I feel really good about Texas Motor Speedway. That's a place where we can go out and have a shot to win.

I've led a lot of laps there in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and our team was able to learn a lot by competing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in the spring.

The biggest issue our team faced in the beginning of the year was lack of experience at some of the tracks on the schedule since we are all rookies in the Nationwide Series.

Now that we are visiting tracks on the schedule for the second time, we have a notebook to work off of which has made us faster. Richard Childress Racing's intermediate track package is strong and I think we'll have a great shot- once again- to run up front and get a top-five finish.

Texas Motor Speedway is very fast but I like the grip levels there. You feel pretty good at that track unless your car is handling bad. A bad car there can make for a long day.

I think Danny Stockman and the crew will have us fixed up and ready to go and hopefully we will be comfortable driving around there and contend for the win."

You're familiar with Texas Motor Speedway and the remaining tracks on the schedule. That must be comforting to you ... "I know the tracks--that's the biggest thing--and how to get around them.

I think in these NASCAR Nationwide Series cars we have a great shot at winning at Texas Motor Speedway. I think it will be a battle between our RCR cars and the Roush Fenway Racing cars.

Texas Motor Speedway is a great place for us and I think it's going to be a wild race. The mile-and-a-halves have been crazy and you never know what is going to happen at Texas Motor Speedway.

The way the track is configured it brings everyone's competition level up so everyone is competitive and anything can happen. Phoenix International Raceway was really good for us earlier this year.

I finished third and Elliott Sadler and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. both ran well there, so it will be between the three of us at PIR. I think Texas Motor Speedway is a good race track for us to make up some ground.

Somebody is going to capitalize that weekend and its going to turn the points around. We just have to stay in contention, and if we can do that for the rest of the season I will be happy with our season.

I'm pretty much locked into third place right now with three races remaining in the season.

All I have to do is gain. That's the only place I can go - Forward. We're going to work hard as a team. We're bringing great race cars to the track for the end of the season. We're doing a good job of finishing up front.

I think our average finish the last three races is fourth or fifth-place so we are going to keep it up."

How do you feel about your chances at winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship this year? "We're still in this championship hunt but it is so hard to gain points in the NASCAR Nationwide Series because the top competitors finish so close to each other each week.

You never know what is going to happen coming down to the last three races on the schedule, but I can say for sure that our No. 3 team will be giving 110 percent.

We need to gain maximum points and the only way to do that is to win races. Our team has had the best average finish on 1.5-mile tracks but we need that little bit extra in order to get to Victory Lane.

We've had fast cars each week and I think if we can put together wins the last few races we will have a chance at the championship."

Kevin Harvick - No. 33 OneMain Financial Chevrolet

Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No. 112 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Nationwide Series stable in the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge.

Harvick drove this No. 33 Chevrolet to third-place finishes at Kentucky Speedway in June and Atlanta Motor Speedway in August, and captured a runner-up result at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October.

Harvick will return to the driver's seat of the No. 33 Nationwide Series Chevrolet for the final time of the 2012 season this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.

The 200-lap event marks the two-time Nationwide Series champion's 290th career Nationwide Series start and his 14th appearance at the 1.5-mile oval.

In his first 12 Nationwide Series races with RCR in 2012, Harvick has earned one win at Richmond International Raceway in September, one pole award at RIR in April, eight top-five and nine top-10 finishes.

What are your thoughts about racing the NASCAR Nationwide Series at Texas Motor Speedway? "I'm excited to get back behind the wheel of the No. 33 OneMain Financial Chevrolet at Texas (Motor Speedway).

It's been a few years since I've raced in the Nationwide Series at Texas, but it's a track that I really enjoy racing at and one that I've had a lot of success at as well.

This is my final Nationwide Series race for the 2012 season, so I'm hoping we can continue on the success I've had there in the past and end the season on a high note."

Brendan Gaughan - No. 2 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet

Brendan Gaughan will pilot Chassis No. 061 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Camping World Truck Series stable. This Chevrolet Silverado was acquired from the merger with Kevin Harvick Inc., at the end of the 2011 season.

After undergoing a remodel in the off season, Gaughan drove this Chevrolet to a fourth-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway in June, second-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway in July and a fourth-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in September.

You've won at Texas Motor Speedway on four previous occasions. Is this one of your favorite tracks? "Texas (Motor Speedway) feels different than any other race track because of all the history there.

It's a great feeling knowing I've been successful here in the past with RCR and ECR behind me. It's definitely an extra confidence booster. On the other hand, if I have a bad race, it makes it all that much worse."

Some say Texas is like a second home for you. What are your thoughts on this? "The speedway is near one of my mother's horse ranches. We spent a lot of time there as a kid.

My family likes to be known as a bunch of cowboys, so it's important for me to run well there. I think next to our hometown track in Las Vegas, Texas (Motor Speedway) is the most important track on the Camping World Truck Series schedule to my parents."

Ty Dillon - No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet

Ty Dillon will pilot Chassis No. 026 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Camping World Truck Series stable in Friday's Texas 350.

This is the same Chevrolet Dillon drove to Victory Lane at Atlanta Motor Speedway in August after starting from the pole position. Dillon also drove this RCR machine to a third-place finish at Kentucky Speedway in September.

This week's 147-lap event marks Dillon's third appearance at Texas Motor Speedway in the Camping World Truck Series. The 20-year-old boasts one top-five and two top-10 finishes at the track.

He holds a 5.5 average starting position and fifth-place average finishing position, has completed 100 percent (315 of 315) of his contested laps and has led for 22 circuits.

Dillon is second in the 2012 Camping World Truck Series driver championship point standings, 21 markers behind the leader.

Source: Richard Childress Racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Kevin Harvick , Jeff Green , Brendan Gaughan , Paul Menard , Clint Bowyer , Elliott Sadler , Austin Dillon , Ty Dillon
Teams Richard Childress Racing , Roush Fenway Racing
Article type Preview
Tags burton, chevrolet, chilldress, dillon, gaughan, harvick, menards, nascar-cup, sadler, texas 500, texas motor speedway