Richard Childress Racing Infineon Race Report

By Richard Childress Racing

RCR teammates finished fourth (Clint Bowyer), ninth (Kevin Harvick), 17th (Paul Menard) and 21st (Jeff Burton).

RCR teammates are second (Harvick), eighth (Bowyer), 17th (Menard) and 24th (Burton) in the Sprint Cup Series point standings following Sunday's race at Infineon Raceway.

Bowyer has back-to-back top-10 finishes on NASCAR's senior circuit

Clint Bowyer, Richard Childress Racing Cheerios / Hambuger Helper Chevy
Clint Bowyer, Richard Childress Racing Cheerios / Hambuger Helper Chevy

Photo by: Bob Heathcote

Bowyer earned a bonus point by leading one time on lap 51

Bowyer spent 96 of 110 laps running in the top 15

Menard logged his career-best start of third and finish of 17th in this weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Infineon Raceway.

Menard has completed each of his four contested NSCS races at Infineon.

Burton was the race's best Closer - gaining the most positions in the final 10 percent of the race with six.

Harvick continues his streak of running at the end of all races contested (11) and finishing on the lead lap at Infineon Raceway with the lone exception being the 2005 event when he finished one lap down.

Harvick has earned back-to-back top-10 finishes at Infineon Raceway.


The No. 27 Duracell/Menards Chevrolet Team Finishes 17th at Infineon

A strong qualifying effort on Friday afternoon put Paul Menard and the Duracell/Menards team in the third position for the start of the Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway, marking his career-best start at the Sonoma, Calif.-based facility. Damage to the front fenders resulted in handling issues that plagued the No. 27 Impala early in the 110-lap race and Menard quickly slipped backwards. The Slugger Labbe-led team made air pressure adjustments during each of Sunday's five pit stops in order to neutralize the tight condition that the Eau Claire, Wis., native was battling and improve his drive off of the turns. Spending the majority of his day in the top 20, Menard worked his way quietly around the 1.99-mile track in an effort to bring home a top-15 finish. Running 16th on lap 105, and in typical road-course racing fashion, contact with a competitor resulted in him being shuffled back three positions to 19th only two laps later. In the closing laps, he climbed back to a 17th-place result.

PAUL MENARD: "Obviously, this wasn't the result that we had hoped to have at Infineon Raceway, but we still fared better than some and our average finish didn't gain or lose us much in the way of points. The Duracell/Menards team worked hard all weekend, but now we'll turn our attention towards heading back to Daytona next week."


Harvick, No. 29 Rheem Tankless Water Heater Team Score Hard Fought Ninth-Place Effort in Sonoma

With Rheem Tankless Water Heaters as the primary sponsor for the first of four races in 2011, Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Rheem Tankless Chevrolet team salvaged a ninth-place finish in Sunday's Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway after battling a loose-handing race car and sustaining damage in a mid-race wreck. Harvick started the race from 26th position and reported a loose-handling condition as he moved inside the top 20 and up to the 17th spot before coming down pit road at lap 18 for fresh tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment under caution. Harvick worked his way into the top 15 after the field took the green flag, but as the caution flag waved at lap 32, he told crew chief Gil Martin that he needed a bigger adjustment to help tighten up the No. 29 Chevrolet. The team pitted again on lap 34 for more changes. On lap 37, Harvick got caught up in a wreck in Turn 11 and the No. 29 Rheem Tankless Water Heater Chevrolet sustained damage. The team pitted twice for repairs, changing the sway bar and making additional adjustments to improve the car's handling. The No. 29 Rheem Tankless Water Heater Chevrolet team continued to work on the car on subsequent pit stops when Martin elected to try a different pit strategy than most of the field and put Harvick on fresher tires at the end of the race. As the strategy played out, Harvick led five laps before pitting for the final time at lap 88. Harvick took the green flag in the 13th position at lap 91 and worked his way up to seventh before slipping back to 10th with eight laps to go. In the closing laps, he was able to pick up one more spot and crossed the start/finish line in the ninth position.

KEVIN HARVICK: "It was all strategy. We got up to about 14th or 15th and just kind of stalled. The car was really loose. Then, we got in a little wreck and tore it up even worse. As the run would go on, we would just get so loose. The car has a lot of damage on it. A lot of credit goes to the Rheem crew for getting it fixed and for the strategy. It was the best ninth-place finish I can ever remember."


Burton Bounces Back from Late-Race Spin for Respectable Finish

Jeff Burton and the No. 31 Caterpillar team dealt with an ill-handling race car throughout the Save Mart 350 and had to settle for a 21st-place finish at Infineon Raceway. Burton qualified the No. 31 Chevrolet in the 25th position for Sunday's 110-lap race on the 12-turn, 1.99-mile road course in northern California's Sonoma Valley. Burton mentioned early on in the race that the car was loose in some areas and tight in others, with an overall lack of rear grip. Crew chief Todd Berrier called for chassis and tire air pressure adjustments to remedy the situation but the fix was only temporary each time. Near the race's halfway point, Burton commented that the Cat Chevy was turning better but still lacked rear grip. He ran as high as 17th on lap 70 but continued work, during stops under caution as well as the green flag, proved unsuccessful. Burton was running 25th on lap 92 when contact from driver Boris Said in the No. 51 Chevrolet caused the No. 31 to spin out. Returning to the track in the 32nd position, Burton passed a number of drivers and took advantage of others spinning to get back to the 21st position before the checkered flag waved.

JEFF BURTON: "We never were able to get a hold of the handling on the Caterpillar Chevy today. Todd (Berrier, crew chief) made a number of changes to the setup and we would run well for a couple of laps but then rear grip would just disappear again. It's been a difficult season so far but we're not a team that gives up."


No. 33 Team Gains Two Positions in Point Standings with Top-Five Finish in Sonoma

Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet team spent 96 of 110 laps running in the top 15 en route to their third top-five finish of the 2011 season, finishing fourth in the Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway. Starting from the ninth position after Friday's qualifying session, the Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet posted top-five speeds in both practice sessions on Saturday in preparation for the 218-mile affair in the heart of California's "Wine Country." On Sunday, Bowyer started the event with a fast car, picking off multiple competitors on the track while giving feedback to crew chief Shane Wilson that the car was just a little loose, especially on long runs under green-flag conditions. After entering the top five on lap 42, the caution flag came out and Wilson called for Bowyer, running in second place at the time, to keep the No. 33 Chevrolet on track and not come down pit road for service to maintain track position. The strategy paid off as Bowyer took over the lead on the next restart, earning a championship driver point in the process. The four-time Sprint Cup Series race winner would continue to run in the top five until lap-74, green-flag pit sops shuffled the running order as many competitors decided to not pit until the last moment. Bowyer's Impala became very loose and under the final caution flag with 22 laps to go, he brought his red and yellow machine down pit road to the attention of the "Helping Hands" pit crew one last time for track bar and air pressure adjustments. The Emporia, Kan., native restarted 19th for the final green-flag run of the day and went on a tear through the field, gaining 15 positions over the last 19 laps while securing the fourth-place finish, his eighth top-10 of the season and second in as many weeks. With the solid performance, Bowyer also gained two spots in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings. He now sits eighth in points, 77 markers out of first.

CLINT BOWYER: "Well, we didn't really weather the storm, but it was a lot of fun out there. Sonoma is a heck of a place race. It's always fun to race in front of a great crowd like this. Our Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet was pretty good all weekend long. It was about a second-to fifth-place car all weekend so fourth is a good finish for us."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Boris Said , Kevin Harvick , Paul Menard , Clint Bowyer , Bob Heath
Teams Richard Childress Racing
Tags bowyer, clevrotet, harvick, infineon, jeff burton, menard, nascar, nscs, richard childress, sonoma, sprint cup