Wednesday, November 3, 2010

RCR Texas Preview: Bowyer, Burton & Harvick Confident After Strong April Performance

Clint Bowyer
No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet Impala
Race Notes and Quotes

This Week’s Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet at Texas Motor Speedway … Clint Bowyer will pilot chassis No. 324 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Built new in 2010, this Chevrolet made its debut last month at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., where Bowyer finished second after leading four times for 40 laps.

Back to Yellow and Red … After a two-race hiatus, the familiar Cheerios/Hamburger Helper paint scheme will return to the No. 33 Chevrolet for the remaining three races of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

Familiar Faces … Crew Chief Shane Wilson and Car Chief Chad Haney will return to the track this weekend following a four-race suspension by NASCAR Officials for infractions following the No. 33 team victory in September at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

New Faces … Kevin Hamlin will join the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper team this weekend as the primary spotter, replacing Mike Dillon for the remainder of 2010 and beyond. Dillon, Vice President of Competition, will take a more active role in overseeing RCR’s NSCS and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series operations at track.

Career Texas Stats… The AAA Texas 500 marks Bowyer’s 179th start in the NSCS.
In nine NSCS starts at the 1.5 mile oval, Bowyer owns two top-
five and four top-10 finishes.

  • That includes two top-10 finishes in the last two fall events at TMS.
  • Bowyer has completed 99.2 percent (2,992 of 3,016) of the total laps contested at TMS during his career.
  • Bowyer owns an average starting position of 14.2 and average finishing position of 15.3 at TMS.
  • Last Time Around … Bowyer and the No.33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper team hope to have better luck this weekend than the April event at TMS. After qualifying eighth and running consistently in the top 10, a cut right-rear tire during a green-flag run pinned them one lap down in traffic, where they eventually were caught up in the Texas version of “The Big One” with only 18 remaining, negating them to a disappointing 36th-place finish.

Back in Victory Lane… RCR drivers Bowyer and Kevin Harvick finished 1-2 in last Sunday’s 500-mile NSCS race at Talladega Superspeedway. The trip to Victory Lane with Bowyer and the No. 33 team gave car owner Richard Childress his 11th victory at Talladega, the most by any car owner at the track. By earning his second victory of 2010, the Emporia, Kan., native maintained 12th place in the NSCS championship point standings and is now just 17 points outside of the top 10.

2010 Season Recap… Over the season’s first 33 events, Bowyer has earned two wins, seven top-five and 17 top-10 finishes. In addition to an average starting position of 15.2, he boasts a 14.5 average finishing position and has led 400 laps of competition. Bowyer now has four career wins to go along with his two poles, 27 top-five and 78 top-10 finishes.

One thing people talk about with Texas is the race fans. It seems to be a much bigger event than other events on the schedule. Do you feel that and what do you notice about that?
“Absolutely, everything is bigger in Texas, I mean that’s their motto. They stick to it and they do a good job at it. The fan base in Texas is awesome. Everyone loves going down there. The race fans down there are very enthusiastic and support us very well. We appreciate that.”

Texas will be the first race back for Shane Wilson (crew chief). Is it still something to look forward to, kind of getting back to normal?
“Absolutely, he should be fresh. He’ll be off of a pretty good vacation so, hopefully, we’ve made him proud and run well. We’ll end that void and start off where we ended there.”

You had your first win in the Truck Series at Texas and your first start in the Cup Series there. Is Texas a track that you enjoy racing?
“I do. I like Texas. It’s very fast there. We’ve run well there, but we haven’t had the success that we’ve had at other tracks. We just haven’t gotten the finishes that we deserve. If we can do that and capitalize on that, I really think it can be a track that we can get a top-five finish and end the year strong.”

You finished seventh at the last fall race at Texas. Is there a difference between the spring and fall race?
“Not really. We seem to run better for some reason the second time we go back there, but the biggest thing is getting there and getting a good finish, and hopefully, gain some points.”

Jeff Burton
No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet Impala
Race Notes and Quotes

This Week’s Caterpillar Chevrolet at Texas Motor Speedway … Jeff Burton will pilot chassis No. 329 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This is a brand new Caterpillar Chevrolet Impala that will be put through its first paces this weekend.

Texas Minutes … In 19 Sprint Cup Series starts at Texas Motor Speedway, Burton boasts two wins, three top-five and nine top-10 finishes. He owns a 25.9 average starting position to go along with a respectable 15.1 average finishing position and has not finished outside the top 13 in the last seven events held at the 1.5-mile oval. The 2007 Samsung 500 winner has been running at the end of all the events held at the 1.5-mile oval with the lone exception being the spring event in 2002. During that time, Burton has completed 96.6 percent of the total laps and has led 156 laps of competition.

These Boots Were Made for Winning … Burton won the inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race held at TMS on April 6, 1997, crossing the finish line four seconds ahead of Dale Jarrett. He also became the race track’s first repeat winner when he captured the checkers on April 15, 2007, claiming his 20th career series win after passing Matt Kenseth on the final lap.

Unfinished Business … A fast race car, coupled with excellent pit calls, helped Burton and the Cat Racing team overcome a commitment line violation just past the 100-lap mark and be in contention for the win in the rain-delayed Samsung Mobile 500 the last time NASCAR’s senior circuit visited the Fort Worth facility. The South Boston, Va., native ran inside the top five with less than 100 laps to go and leapfrogged to the lead after a two-tire pit call under a lap-312 caution period. Burton held the point for the next six circuits prior to a nine-car melee breakout that caused NASCAR to red flag the event for 20 minutes. After the engines re-fired and a couple of pace laps were taken, Burton led the field back to green with 12 laps remaining, but much to the disappointment of the driver and team, the Caterpillar Chevy produced a tight-handling condition that aided in the loss of positions and a scrape with the outer retaining wall before taking the checkers in 12th.

Catch the Driver … Burton will appear at the Chevy Stage on Sunday, November 7at 10:40 a.m. and will participate in a 15-minute question-and-answer session with the fans.

You have four top-10 finishes in your last five races at Texas. Does Texas fit your driving style?
“Texas has been a good race track for us lately but it has been an up-and-down place for us, too. It’s a demanding race track and is different from the other mile-and-a-half’s we go to. The corner entry is completely different and is rough. I like the race track, obviously, because I’ve won there twice but it hasn’t been fun at times, too.”

What are the keys to earning win No. 3 at Texas?
“The interesting thing about Texas is that every time we go there, it takes something different to get around the track. It’s unbelievable how the set-ups change from race to race there. I enjoy racing at Texas but it’s one of those places where it has been feast or famine for me. We’ve either done really well or really poorly. Obviously, the point of the year we are in right now, we need to do really well in order to come into 2011 with a bang. We just need to bring our homework to the table and be able to adjust the car to its liking. Texas is a really fun race track but it is difficult to conquer.”

You are the first two-time winner at Texas. What’s the feeling like heading to Fort Worth?
“Honestly, I feel like there’s a stretch of races, with Texas (spring race) being in that stretch of races, where each of those races we’ve felt like we’ve had a good opportunity to win at this year. In April, we were sitting there with 15 laps to go and we get a red flag. The car sat there and sat there and sat there and the tire pressures went nuts. We didn’t finish as well as we had run. I thought we were going to win the race. I can say the same thing for a lot of the races in this stretch. I’m excited to go back there. I feel like we can go and compete at a high level. It’s a very difficult race track. It’s really, really fast. The corner entries are different than anywhere else. It’s almost a poor design the way the track is, but that’s okay. It’s different, it’s a real challenge, and I look forward to going there because of all that.”

The only lap you led in your last win at Texas was the last lap. What was that like?
“It was cool. It was one of the wins that I got to race against Matt (Kenseth). A late-race battle with someone you have a lot of respect for is awesome. We had a great race that had a lot of side-by-side action. It was a lot of fun. Finally, I got by him on the last lap. It was a real cool experience.”

You stole a paving brick from Victory Lane when you got your first win at Texas. Did you steal anything when you won again in 2007? If you get back to Victory Lane, what are you eyeballing?
“No, my thieving days are over. (laughs)”

Kevin Harvick
No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet Impala
Race Notes and Quotes

This Week’s Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet at Texas Motor Speedway … Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No. 318 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Built new for 2010, this Chevrolet made its debut last month at Kansas Speedway, where Harvick led 16 laps and finished third. He then followed that up with an eighth-place finish two weeks later at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Back to Yellow and Red … After switching to a special white and camouflage paint scheme at Talladega for longtime RCR partner, Realtree, the No. 29 car will be back in its familiar yellow and red colors of Shell-Pennzoil for the final three races of the year.

Career Texas Stats … The Texas 500 marks Harvick’s 356th career start in the NSCS.

  • In 15 NSCS starts at the 1.5-mile oval, Harvick owns three top-five and seven top-10 finishes.
  • He has completed 99.8 percent (5,008 of 5,020) of the total laps contested at TMS.
  • He owns an average finish of 12.9 at Texas, seventh best for Harvick of all tracks on the NSCS circuit.
  • He has finished 11th or better in five of his last six TMS starts.
  • In 12 Nationwide Series starts at TMS, Harvick owns four wins, five top-five and nine top-10 finishes. All four of Harvick’s wins came in RCR-prepared Chevrolets.

Last Time Around … Harvick and the No. 29 team are looking to improve upon their result at TMS in April, when the Bakersfield, Calif., native finished seventh. The weekend was plagued by rain, as the teams were only able to manage one practice session, and the race was postponed until Monday morning.

Talladega Thriller … Harvick and the No. 29 scored a runner-up finish last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, as NASCAR officials deemed teammate Clint Bowyer was inches ahead at the time of a caution flag on the final lap. After suffering damage in two separate incidents during the race, the Gil Martin-led team made the necessary repairs and Harvick was able to draft his way back to the front of the field in the closing laps.

Master of the Restrictor Plates … Harvick enjoyed tremendous success at restrictor-plate racing in 2010. In the four points-paying races, Harvick finished in the top 10 in each one, the first time that feat has been accomplished since Jeff Gordon in 2007. Harvick enjoyed an average finish of 2.75 in the four races. 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.

Mr. Consistent … The RCR driver leads all NSCS drivers in top-10 finishes with 23, and is tied for the lead in top-five finishes with 15. For the season, Harvick owns three points-paying wins (Talladega, Daytona in July and Michigan in August), a second straight Budweiser Shootout victory at Daytona in February, and 29 top-15 finishes in the season’s 33 races.

In the Loop … Harvick owns some very impressive loop data statistics over the season’s first 33 races.

  • First in average finish (9.0).
  • Second in Closer category, total positions improved during the last 10 percent of each race.
  • Third in fastest drivers late in a run.
  • Third in fastest speed in traffic.
  • Third in green flag speed.
  • Fifth in Driver Rating, a formula combining the following categories: wins, finishes, top-15 finishes, average running position while on lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, led most laps, and lead lap finish.
  • Sixth in percentage of laps run on lead lap.
  • Sixth in fastest drivers early in a run.
  • Fifth in average running position.

Chevrolet Allows Fans to Celebrate Like a Champion in Las Vegas … Kevin Harvick fans can enter the “Team Chevy Celebrate Like a Champion” Sweepstakes for their chance to win a grand prize package that includes a meet and greet with Team Chevy driver Kevin Harvick during Champions’ Week in Las Vegas. The grand prize winner will also win two Chevrolet Cruze LTZ, a trip for four to Las Vegas-Including four tickets to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony and $2,000 spending cash-and the chance to meet both Kevin Harvick and Miss Sprint Cup. Fans can enter the “Team Chevy Celebrate Like a Champion” sweepstakes at the Win Your Chevy Sweepstakes page now through Nov. 15, 2010. No purchase is necessary. See official rules for details at

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your…Grocery Carts? The No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil crew will be participating in the Shell-Kroger Grocery Bagging Challenge at the Kroger located at 945 W. Lamar in Arlington, Texas on Thursday, November 4 from 5:30-7 p.m. CDT. The competition will pit the crew against fans to see who can bag groceries the fastest. Fans who fill their bags faster than the crew will win a $25 Shell Gift Card, and the runner-up will receive a Kroger Gift Card in thanks for their participation. Additionally, the Kroger logo will run on the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet during the November 7 race at Texas Motor Speedway.

With three guys so close in points, what is it going to take to win this championship?
“I really think you are going to have to finish in the top five over the last three races. If you’re not able to do that and be in contention to lead laps, you’re probably not going to win the championship. You can’t be conservative. You can’t go there hoping for a top 10 because, as you’ve seen over the past few years, top fives and leading laps is what it’s going to take over the next three weeks. I just believe one of three cars is going to do that.”

You guys have separated yourselves from the pack, so can you be more aggressive at Texas and some of these other tracks than you have been?
“I think so. We will take a little more horsepower this time than we did the last time we were there. We ran well the first time we were there this year, and we have a pretty good baseline to start our set-up. We feel like we have good notes, and I feel like we have much better race cars than we had at the beginning of the year. Our cars were great at the beginning of the year, but I think they are much better now. We’ve fixed some issues we had on pit road, and I feel like we’re a better race team than we were six weeks ago. We just have to keep doing what we’re doing and keep from having those big hiccups.”

You’ve been pretty consistent at Texas. It looks like you guys having been closing in on the right package for Texas.
“Yes, with all of the progression with the cars, the power, and the difference in the way we understand some of the engineering things we work with now, I think we’re just better than we were the first time at Texas. You never know until you get back, and a lot of things are dictated by the tire and using those notes. You just never know until you get there and go on the track for those first few laps.”

What is the key to getting around Texas?
“Well, the key is getting off the exits of the corners, holding it wide open, and finding that balance between being too loose and too tight up off the corners. Texas is a lot different than a most of the other mile-and-a-half race tracks, because the banking flattens out so fast.”

- Richard Childress Racing, Press Releases

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