Paul Menard started from the 10th position and drove the Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Chevrolet to a ninth-place finish in Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway. When the green flag dropped on the 201-lap NASCAR Sprint Cup Series affair Menard powered into the top five by lap 10. Battling a tight-handling machine in the center of the turns, the No. 27 Chevrolet team lost track position but remained in the top 10. Crew chief Slugger Labbe called for air pressure and chassis adjustments during scheduled caution-period and green-flag pit stops throughout the race to help alleviate the challenges that Menard was facing on the No. 27 Chevrolet. A lap-137 pit stop under yellow-flag conditions and a subsequent visit to pit road under caution seven laps later, armed the neon yellow racer with fresh tires and a full tank of fuel. As teams began to make green-flag pit stops, Menard assumed the lead on lap 175. The Eau Claire, Wis., native made his final pit stop under caution on lap 182, forfeiting the point position for new tires, Sunoco Green E15 fuel and one last set of adjustments to improve the car's handling. Menard survived two final restarts, including a green-white-checkered finish, advancing from the 12th spot to cross the finish line in the ninth position.
Start - 10 Finish - 9 Laps Led - 8 Points - 15
PAUL MENARD QUOTE: "It was a pretty good day for the Pittsburgh Paints/Menards team. We adjusted on the car's handling throughout the race and the pit crew was solid in the pits as always. We took a gamble at the end and thought we had more cars a lap down when they cycled through their green-flag pit stops and the caution came out. Still, we're happy with a top 10 and are looking forward to heading to Bristol (Motor Speedway) next weekend."
Kevin Harvick and the Jimmy John's Team Finish 16th at Michigan international Speedway
Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Jimmy John's team finished 16th at Michigan International Speedway after battling handling issues during the Pure Michigan 400. The 36-year-old driver started from the 20th position and ran within the top 20 as he fought a tight-handling Chevrolet. Harvick brought the Richard Childress Racing machine down pit road under yellow and green-flag conditions as the Jimmy John's pit crew executed two and four-tire pit stops with air pressure and chassis adjustments, in an effort to combat the handling issue on the No. 29 Chevrolet. As the 201-lap event neared an end, the caution flag was displayed for the final time with five laps remaining in the event. During the caution period, crew chief Shane Wilson called Harvick to pit road for right-side tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment on lap 196 for one final attempt to correct the handling issue. The RCR driver was scored in the 17th-position for the green-white-checkered restart and was able to pick up one spot during the final laps, crossing the finish line 16th. The top-20 finish moved Harvick up one position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings, to eighth, 85 points behind the leader.
Start - 20 Finish - 16 Laps Led - 0 Points - 8
KEVIN HARVICK QUOTE: "Obviously, that was not the kind of day we were expecting to have. Our team struggled all weekend to find the speed and setup we needed to get the Jimmy John's Chevrolet out front. We'll regroup this week and switch our focus to Bristol (Motor Speedway)."
Jeff Burton and the Wheaties Chevrolet Team Finishes 19th at Michigan International Speedway
After starting from the 32nd position in the Pure Michigan 400, Jeff Burton and the No. 31 Wheaties Chevrolet team scored a 19th-place finish in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Michigan International Speedway. As soon as the green flag was displayed, Burton showcased speed by passing 10 competitors in the first two laps. Crew chief Drew Blickensderfer played different strategies throughout the day, taking only right-side tires only during most of the routine pit stops while Burton ran in the top 20. By lap 140, the South Boston, Va., native climbed his way into the eighth position. On a lap-148 restart, the 21-time Sprint Cup Series race winner made contact with another competitor, sending the No. 31 Wheaties Chevrolet back in the field. Burton overcame handling challenges of the car and passed three cars over the final portion of the 201-lap event to bring home a 19th-place finish. Burton now sits 20th in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.
Start - 32 Finish - 19 Laps Led - 0 Points - 20
JEFF BURTON QUOTE: "While we were expecting a better finish than 19th-place, I felt like this team played a good strategy today. We were much improved from the first time we came to Michigan (International Speedway) in June. We were able to test at Bristol (Motor Speedway) a few months ago so I plan to improve on my top-10 finish there in March next Saturday under the lights."
Source: Richard Childress Racing