Richard Childress Racing drivers ready for Phoenix 500

Paul Menard No. 27 Rheem/Menards Chevrolet

This Week's Rheem/Menards Chevrolet at Phoenix International Raceway ... Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 380 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend's AdvoCare 500. This Chevrolet was last raced at Richmond International Raceway in September where Menard drove it to a 23rd-place finish. This chassis was also utilized at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July where Menard earned a 14th-place finish after starting from the eighth position.

Paul Menard
Paul Menard

Photo by: Adriano Manocchia


You finished 31st at Phoenix International Raceway in the spring. Can you talk about that race? "We ran well at Phoenix (International Raceway) last fall and we were on our way to a top-10 finish in March when three of us got together coming off of turn four and we wound up wrecking. I feel good about the track. We've run strong on the newly resurfaced tracks this year and last, and I feel good about it."

What's the maturing process of Phoenix International Raceway going through since it was repaved last year and how do you expect it to affect the racing this fall? "From when we tested out there (at Phoenix International Raceway) to when we went back to race it was a lot better. PIR had some racing school cars run on the surface which put more rubber down. Then it sat over the winter and when we came back in the spring it was better yet. I think that when we got back there this fall it will be even better after sitting through the 110-degree summer heat in Phoenix every day."

A year ago you got your first top-10 finish at Phoenix International Raceway. What do you remember about that race? "I really don't remember a lot about the fall race (at Phoenix International Raceway) last year. It was kind of an uneventful day, which is usually a good day."

How deep are you into preparing for the 2013 season by the time we head to Phoenix International Raceway, which is the second-to-last race of the 2012 season? "We have a new car next year and that's where a lot of our engineering focus is right now. The deeper we get into this year, less time will be spent on the 2012 cars and there will be more focus on the 2013 cars."

Kevin Harvick No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet

This Week's Budweiser Chevrolet at Phoenix International Raceway ... Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No.383 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in the AdvoCare 500. Harvick raced this chassis at Phoenix International Raceway in March and Dover International Speedway in June, collecting second-place finishes in both events. The Bakersfield, Calif., native also drove this Chevrolet to a 15th-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway in August and to a 13th-place result at Dover in September.


What were you able to learn from the March race at Phoenix International Raceway? "In the spring our car was faster on two tires than it was on four tires. Our weakness was the restarts and getting grip, but we were better on the restart with grip on two tires than we were with four. The track stayed pretty consistent, and for the first two races now with the new layout I think it's put on pretty good shows."

What are your thoughts on the Phoenix International Raceway after the repave? "They did a great job of getting the track (Phoenix International Raceway) prepared and I think both races we've run there so far were really good races. The race track really widened out as we went through the races, the groove widened out a lot. They took the fans into consideration, and everybody can see what's going on around the race track. The track is very racy, as well."

How is Phoenix International Raceway's present layout different from the old configuration? "The entrance into turn one (at Phoenix International Raceway) reminds me of the old configuration. The center and the exit are a lot different just because of the banking. The back straightaway is the biggest difference just for the fact that it has a lot of banking and a-pretty sharp turn going into turn three. As we've run more laps there, I think everybody has gotten braver with using the apron, but turn three and four reminded me of the old race track the most."

Jeff Burton No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet

This Week's No. 31 Chevrolet at Phoenix International Raceway ... Jeff Burton will race Chassis No. 355 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This No. 31 Chevrolet was utilized three times last season at Darlington Raceway (start-24th, finish-33rd), Kansas Speedway (start-16th, finish-25th) and Chicagoland Speedway (start-22nd, finish-15th). Its only appearance of the 2012 season came at the Sprint Showdown at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May where Burton scored a top-10 finish (eighth) after posting a top-five qualifying effort.


Talk about how much you are looking forward to going back to Phoenix International Raceway. "Phoenix International Race has been a really good track for me. Every time I go there we run well and have been in position to win the race. We've even won it several times. It's just been a good track. When we go there, I'm very comfortable and feel like we know what it takes to win."

Richard Childress Racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Kevin Harvick , Paul Menard
Teams Richard Childress Racing
Article type Preview
Tags burton, chevrolet, childress, harvick, menard, phoenix