Wednesday, October 27, 2010

RCR Talladega Preview: Harvick, Burton and Bowyer Plate Engines Have Huge Advantage

KEVIN HARVICK ON TALLADEGA IN RELATION TO WHERE HE SITS IN POINTS: “I think you can control a lot of more things at the other places (tracks). But, when you get to Talladega, you’re kind of at the mercy of a lot of things that can happen around you. So, I think after you leave Talladega, you’ll kind of know where you stand as far as what you need to do over the last few weeks. I think the last few weeks are really good race tracks for us, and Talladega is a good race track for us, as well. They can all flip you upside down and turn things around and have things turn at any given week, but it seems that Talladega is definitely the biggest wild card as far as what’s going to happen, and who is going to get caught in a wreck and who isn’t. So, I think everybody has been waiting for this particular race to see where you stack up from here.”

HARVICK ON TALLADEGA BEING A CRAP SHOOT AND MAYBE HAVING AN ADVANTAGE: “I’ll take the odds. If it all ended at Talladega and we were behind, I’ll take the odds. We’ve been really good on those race tracks this year. I feel like we’ve had good strategies, done the things that we have needed to do, and had fast cars. So, in the end, fast cars are what it takes to even have shot at winning a race. You have to have a car that is capable of doing that. I like the plate races. I enjoy them. We’ll go and race just like we have, and, hopefully, come out with a similar outcome.”

HAPPY HARVICK WITH RESTRICTOR PLATES ON: Harvick has enjoyed tremendous success at restrictor-plate racing in 2010. In February at Daytona International Speedway, Harvick was one of, if not the most dominant competitor, throughout the 2010 Speedweeks. He opened the season with a bang by winning his second straight Budweiser Shootout. He followed that up by finishing second in his qualifying race for the Daytona 500. In the “Great American Race,” Harvick led the most laps (41) and finished seventh. In April at Talladega, he won, and followed that up with a dominating performance in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona in July, where he led the most laps (28) and scored the victory.

Career Talladega Stats … The Talladega 500 marks Harvick’s 355th career start in the NSCS.
# In 19 NSCS starts at the 2.66-mile oval, Harvick owns one win, one pole, four top-five and eight top-10 finishes.
# He has led at least one lap in 12 of those 19 starts, and five of his last six.
# He owns an average start of 22.2 and an average finish of 15.5 at Talladega.

NEW LOOK FOR NO. 29 CAR AT TALLADEGA THIS WEEK: Harvick and the No. 29 team will sport a different look this weekend at Talladega. The traditional yellow and red colors of their Chevrolet will be transformed to white and camouflage, and adorned with Realtree on the hood. Realtree, based in Columbus, Ga., began its involvement with RCR in 1997 on the No. 3 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet team with the legendary Dale Earnhardt. It began its relationship with Harvick at RCR in 1999 and continues today as an associate sponsor of the No. 29 team. In addition, Realtree president Bill Jordan and RCR president and CEO Richard Childress have been personal friends for decades through racing and their love of the outdoors.

HARVICK CHASSIS CHOICE: Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No. 237 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This Chevrolet has gone two for two this year, scoring the win in the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona in February and the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega in April.

JEFF BURTON ON TALLADEGA BEING AN "X" FACTORE FOR ALL THE CHASERS: “I look at it as an opportunity to gain points. We’re behind in points and we need to gain some, so I look at it as an opportunity. When you’re behind a little bit, you’re looking for odd things to happen and, certainly, Talladega is a place where odd things can happen. In the spring race, we were really fast. We thought we had a great shot to win the race. A piece of debris got on the grill late in the race and we had to pit. We ended up getting in a wreck right after that, but we were leading the race when the caution came out. We were really fast so, for me, I’m looking forward to going to that race track. You know there’s a good chance you might get in a wreck, but there’s a good chance other people will get in a wreck, too. You just go and try and run the best you can. Honestly, it’s hard to say this, but you can’t worry about it. You have to try not to cause a wreck, and you try not to get in one.”

BURTON ON WHAT'S IT'S LIKE RUNNING AT TALLADEGA: “I’m always nervous to run at Talladega. You have to go into that race thinking that there is going to be a multi-car incident and how to miss it. To me, it’s a stressful Sunday morning and once the race gets going, I calm down. But, as the laps start winding down, the intensity level just goes through the roof. It’s unbelievable how you can feel it there more than any other race track. At every other race track, if you’re racing for the lead you might be racing with maybe two or three other guys. At Talladega, you’re contending with 30 drivers. When the intensity level increases for 30 people versus three, it changes the way you race.”

BURTON ON WHERE HE WANTS TO BE ON THE LAST LAP: “Talladega has the potential of being a 20-car pack with 23 others in the garage or the potential to be a 35-car pack. The bigger the pack, the more danger you are in being in the front. If something happens with three to go and the first four cars break away, then being in the front is not as dangerous. Being in the front is dangerous when the guys in front can get momentum and come get you. I do believe with the old car you were more protected up front than you are in the new car. You seem to be more of a sitting duck with the new car.”

ONE YEAR AGO: Todd Berrier took over crew chief duties on the No. 31 Caterpillar team at Talladega exactly one year ago. Together, Burton, Berrier and the Cat Racing team have posted nine top-five and 19 top-10 finishes in 36 starts. Berrier’s RCR career began as a fabricator in 1994. Since then, the Kernersville, N.C., native has earned 19 victories as a crew chief in the Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series. He won the 2001 NASCAR Nationwide Series championship, the 2003 Brickyard 400 and the 2007 Daytona 500, all with driver Kevin Harvick.

BURTON AT TALLADEGA: In 33 Sprint Cup Series starts at Talladega, Burton owns four top-five and 13 top-10 finishes. Although he has yet to visit Victory Lane at the storied race track, his best finish of third came in October 2001. The South Boston, Va., native holds a 24.8 average finish, has led 104 laps of competition and ranks eighth with the most miles completed at the larger-than-life speedway. Over the past 11 races at the Talladega, Ala., facility, Burton has made 4,322 passes under green-flag conditions, the most of all drivers. Of those same passes, the RCR driver made 2,970 of them while running in the top 15, making him the sport’s best quality passer.

BURTON CHASSIS CHOICE: Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 312 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend’s 500 miler. Built new this season, Burton drove this No. 31 racer to a fifth-place finish in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway in July.

CLINT BOWYER ON WHAT IT TAKES TO WIN AT TALLADEGA: “We have very good race cars. Our plate program is second to none right now. I’m looking forward to going there. I look at Talladega as being the track that I can get my second win of the year.”

BOWYER ON THE ADVANTAGE ECR ENGINES HAVE AT TALLADEGA: “That’s certainly the piece of the puzzle that has us up front and leading laps, but I’m sure everyone else has picked their program up since then. I think the boys will be ready for the competition and, hopefully, we can bring another win home for ECR.”

BOWYER ON BEING INVOLVED IN SOME THRILLING RESTRICTOR PLATE RACE MOMENTS: “I think the only thing you can take away from them is that it’s part of racing. You have to be able to put yourself in those positions. You have to put yourself in the position to get to the front and sometimes, being in those situations, will get you in trouble. It’s just the nature of the beast. You have to be able to go for it at times and sometimes that will get you.”

BOWYER AT TALLADEGA: In nine starts at the 2.66-mile oval in NASCAR’s premier division, the three-time Sprint Cup Series race winner has earned one top-five and three top-10 finishes. Bowyer boasts a 24.4 average start that goes along with a 21.4 average finish, registering a best finish of fifth in October 2008 after starting 35th.

BOWYER CHASSIS CHOICE: Clint Bowyer will race Chassis No. 294 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Built brand new for the 2010 season, this No. 33 racer was piloted to a fourth-place finish in the season opening Daytona 500.

- Richard Childress Racing Press Release 

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