Wednesday, March 2, 2011

RCR Drivers Looking For First Team Win at Las Vegas

Harvick finished 2nd at Vegas last year
Kevin Harvick
No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet Impala
Race Notes and Quotes

This Week’s Budweiser Chevrolet at Las Vegas Motor Speedway …Kevin Harvick will pilot chassis No.325 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Built new in 2010, Harvick drove this car to a third-place finish in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November.

Career Stats … In 10 starts at the 1.5-mile oval, Harvick has earned three top-five and four top-10 finishes. In addition, the Budweiser driver has completed 99.8 percent (2,686 of 2,691) total laps and has led a total of 54 laps. Harvick has claimed an average starting position of 23.7 and an average finishing position of 12.8 in Sin City.

Last Time Around … The Bakersfield, Calif., native earned his best finish of second at the Las Vegas facility last February in the 327-lap affair. The No. 29 Chevrolet was the fastest car on track for the majority of the day, yet Harvick’s two fresh tires didn’t stand up against Johnson’s four new tires during the closing laps of the event. Johnson found his way to the winner’s circle, but the RCR team felt victorious coming home second after starting 34th.

Former Winner … Harvick is a former winner at LVMS, claiming victory in the 2004 and 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series Sam’s Town 300.

Let it Ride Times Two … In addition to his driving duties with the No. 29 Budweiser team, Harvick, a 37-time race winner in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, will drive Kevin Harvick Incorporated’s No. 33 Chevrolet in Saturday’s Sam’s Town 300. The race will air live on ABC beginning at 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The race will also be broadcast live on the Performance Racing Network and Sirius Satellite Radio.

Meet the Press …Harvick will be available to members of the media at the No. 29 Budweiser hauler in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage on Friday, March 4, at 2 p.m.


What’s your reaction when you see the Las Vegas Strip? “Well I grew up on the West Coast, about four hours from Vegas. It’s crazy to see how much it’s grown since I remember going there the first time. You can find anything you want to do in Vegas. It’s a fun town to go celebrate our championship in.”

I think of race car drivers as calculated gamblers. You sit there and think whether you’re 100% sure you can make a pass or not. Do you look at yourself as a calculated gambler? “I think you have to be to a certain extent. I also think there’s an ‘I may not make it this time’ type of move that you have to try to accomplish every once and a while to try and win a race, or put yourself in position to win a race. I think on a week-to-week basis, it’s a good description of who we are.”

You had a pretty strong run at Vegas last February and finished second. Can you talk a little bit about last year? “Yeah, last year didn’t start off too well for us. I got a little anxious during practice and got the car in the wall, and they had to fix it. I didn’t get to practice the whole first session. The car was really good during the race. We were able to make our way to the front of the field, and put ourselves in contention at the end. We just ran out of laps at the end. I’m excited to go back there. We won the Nationwide race and finished second in the Cup race. It should be a good weekend for us again this year.”

Bowyer doesn't pay attention to the Vegas sports book odds
Clint Bowyer
No. 33 Wheaties FUEL Chevrolet
Race Notes and Quotes

This Week’s Wheaties FUEL Chevrolet at Las Vegas Motor Speedway … Clint Bowyer will pilot chassis No. 324 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This chassis was utilized during two races in last year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup where Bowyer scored two top-10 finishes – the first at Auto Club Speedway, where he led 40 laps while finishing second and Texas Motor Speedway, where he finished seventh.

Career Las Vegas Stats … The Kobalt Tools 400 marks Bowyer’s 184rd NSCS start.
* In five NSCS starts at the one-mile oval, Bowyer owns one top-five and two top-10 finishes.
* He has completed 97.8 percent (1,326 of 1,356) of the total laps contested at LVMS during his career.
* The Emporia, Kan., native has led 13 total laps at LVMS.
* Bowyer owns an average starting position of 21.4 and average finishing position of 17.8.
* His best effort at the Nevada facility is a second-place finish in the March 2009 event.

Back in Black … For the second time in the last two seasons, Bowyer will trade in the familiar yellow and red Cheerios/Hamburger Helper paint scheme for the black and orange colors of Wheaties FUEL. He ran the primarily black paint scheme last season at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, finishing in the fourth position.

Last Time Around … Bowyer racked up a top-10 finish and led three laps, finishing eighth last season at LVMS. He started in the 13th position.

Last Week … After being involved in a 14-car pileup on lap 65, Bowyer and the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet team salvaged a 27th-place finish in the Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.


What do you think when you go to the big city of Las Vegas? “I like Vegas. The bright lights of the city are definitely cool. I like racing there, too. I think the fan base, the mold that they’ve created at that track with the infield and everything is what we have to strive for next with every race track. As a race car driver, you like to see every emotion and every thought, that you do goes to the watchful eye of the fan. It feels like you’re a fish in a fishbowl, but if you put yourself in their shoes, coming to a race track that’s as close as you can get to the action. They get to see it all and take it all in. I think it’s a really cool place to race.”

Are race car drivers calculated gamblers? When you go to make a pass, do you think of the odds of you passing that other driver? Do you think you’re a little bit of a gambler out there? “Yeah, you are. You really don’t think that way. You’re always trying to think about how you’re going to get around him and how you’re going to pass him. You’re trying everything you can possibly do, waiting for him to slip up, whatever the case may be, but you’re not saying ‘alright, is this a 25% gamble…a 50%gamble? What are my odds here of making this?’ If you don’t think you’re going to make the pass and it’s going to cost you, don’t do it. If you think you can make the pass and you’re going to do it, then on top of that, if it’s two-to-go or the last lap and you’re racing for the win, that odd factor just goes out the window. You’re going for the win if you have a shot at it.”

You finished second there two years ago and eighth last season. Do you have a lot of confidence now that you can pull it off there? “I do. We’ve run well there. We’ve had a couple good calls that have put us in a situation when we ran second. It’s definitely a track we can get better at, but definitely not a track that we’re a slouch at either.”

Do you ever see the boards there at the casinos that say ‘Clint Bowyer 45/1′? Do you ever pay attention to that? “Well, it’s kind of different. I don’t ever go there. If I’m gambling, I’m playing black jack or craps. I’m not a big sportsbook guy. I don’t understand enough about odds and stuff like that. I know our sport. I know how hard it is to win a race. I don’t know what the odds are. I don’t pay attention to them.”

Burton is a two time winner in Las Vegas
Jeff Burton
No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet Impala
Race Notes and Quotes

This Week’s Caterpillar Chevrolet at Las Vegas Motor Speedway … Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 344 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This is a brand new Caterpillar Chevrolet Impala that will circle the race track for the first time this weekend.

Las Vegas Details … Burton won the 1999 and 2000 Sprint Cup Series races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In 13 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at the speedway, he has claimed five top-five and eight top-10 finishes. In addition, the South Boston, Va., native has posted one pole, three wins, five top-five and six top-10 finishes in eight Nationwide Series starts at the track. The 21-time Sprint Cup Series winner also holds an 18.8 starting average coupled with an impressive 9.9 finishing average, has completed 3,293 of 3,373 total laps (97.6 percent) and has been running at the end of every event at the mile-and-a-half race track.

Getting Loopy in Sin City … Burton is the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ second-best Quality Passer – a statistic derived from the number of positions gained while running in the top 15 under green-flag conditions. Burton has gained an average of 41.7 spots over the last six events held at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The South Boston, Va., native has also logged 1,293 of the last 1,623 laps (79.7 percent) running in the top 15 that ranks him third best amongst competitors. At the same time, the veteran driver has made the second-most green-flag passes with 379, just 32 passes shy of Carl Edwards’ total. Burton is also ranked fifth in NASCAR’s Average Running Position category (9.78) and is fifth in the Driver Rating category (98.7).

And the Winner Is … On behalf of Caterpillar, Burton will attend the Contractor of the Year reception at Caesar’s Palace on Friday, March 4 beginning at 7 p.m. The Caterpillar-sponsored driver will participate in a question-and-answer session, assist with the award presentation and sign autographs for the attendants.

Jeff Burton Live … Fans can see Burton live Sunday, March 6 from 7:50 – 8:05 a.m. on the Chevy Stage, located in the speedway’s midway area. The RCR driver will be part of a question-and-answer session hosted by Chevrolet.

Meet Jeff’s Pit Crew … Members of the over-the-wall Cat Racing team will sign autographs on Sunday, March 6 beginning at 9 a.m. at the Chevy Stage, located in front of the speedway in the midway area.


You’re from a small town in Virginia. When you go to Vegas, are you ever amazed by the bright lights of a big city? “Vegas is pretty insane. There’s a lot of money there. It’s amazing what that city has grown into, and it continues to grow. We’ve been racing out there for however many years; we’ve been going to trade shows out there for about twenty years now. It’s really grown a lot since then. When they changed the race track in Vegas, I thought they were going to screw it up because they typically do when they change tracks, but they really made that race track a lot better. The racing has been a lot better since they changed it. I was very surprised.”

Clint (Bowyer, RCR teammate) mentioned that the infield in Vegas is how all race tracks should be. The fans should be able to get that kind of experience. “I think exposure is a great thing. I think what they’ve done at Daytona and at Vegas are great ideas. You’re right, it puts the drivers in the fishbowl, but it makes you have to pay attention to things that are distracting. But, at the end of the day, it’s just what we do. It’s funny because when other professional athletes come to our races, they are just shocked. They’re like, ‘what are you doing? You’re going out racing in two hours and you’re out talking to all these people.’ It’s just what you do. You just get into a rhythm of it. There’s an appropriate time for everything. The garage area is not the best place for autographs, but it’s a great place for people to be exposed to the sport. I love the fact that fans can really see and get involved in what actually goes on. I think that’s the right thing to do.”

You really came out of the box strong last year. You have a pretty good track record, as well. What is it about this track that you like? “Yeah, we did. Vegas has been a really good race track for us. We haven’t won on the new surface, but we have come close a bunch of times. I thought we had one won a few years ago. Jimmie Johnson and I were battling back and forth for the lead and we broke a motor late in the run. I really like going to Vegas. It’s one of my favorite race tracks. I wish we went there more often. The fans are great, but the race track it self is very racy. It’s a fun race track to go to. The thing about Vegas is that we’ve gone there and didn’t run well, but we still brought home a solid finish. That’s a good sign that a race track works for you.”

Menard using a brand new RCR chassis this week
Paul Menard
No. 27 Moen/Menards Chevrolet Impala
Race Notes and Quotes

This Week’s Moen/Menards Chevrolet at Las Vegas Motor Speedway … Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 328 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This No. 27 Chevrolet Impala is a brand new addition to the RCR fleet, and will see its first laps on the track at LVMS.

Viva Las Vegas … This weekend marks Menard’s fifth start at the 1.5-mile speedway. In his four previous starts, he has completed 98.1% of his laps (1,065 of 1,086). He has an average starting position of 30.2 and an average finishing position of 26.5, earning his best finish of 17th in last year’s NSCS event (February 2010). His best start of 19th came in his debut at the 1.5-mile speedway (March 2007) following an exciting qualifying session which nearly sent the Eau Claire, Wisc., native airborne on his second lap.

Meet the Press … Menard will field questions from the members of the press corps inside Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s infield media center on Friday, March 4 at 3 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.

Paul Menard LIVE for Chevy Q&A … Fans can participate in a question-and-answer session with Menard on Sunday, March. 6 at 8:30 a.m. PST at the Chevy display.

Race Rewind … Last weekend, Menard earned his best finish at Phoenix International Raceway when he and the No. 27 team brought home a 17th-place finish in the Fresh Fit 500. Menard heads to Las Vegas tied for 10th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.


What do you think of Las Vegas? “The race track (Las Vegas Motor Speedway) is really good. It seems to be coming into its own; there are a lot of different grooves that you can run. I enjoy racing there, but because I don’t gamble, I’m not a drinker and I’m not a ‘night-life’ type of guy, the casinos and clubs don’t really excite me.”

Do you feel race car drivers are a little bit like gamblers, making split-second decisions all race? “That’s a good analogy, especially heading to Vegas this weekend. Yes, I think they are because you have to pick and choose your battles all day long. If you want to race someone hard to get that one position because you think you’ll be around them all day, then you have to go for it. There are a lot of things that go into your decision-making process as you pick and choose what’s right for you at that time, and you might not always make right choice (laughs).”

What do you think of the Vegas track in that it is very fan-friendly and that the fans have a full view into your world from the top of the Neon Garage? “It’s definitely like you’re in a fish bowl. When you’re sitting in the car during practice, working hard and making changes because you have an hour to get your car right, you don’t really pay attention to it because as a team you stay really focused. But, if you have a chance to get out of the car and wait while the team switches it over to qualifying trim, you can look up and see how many people are hanging out on the catwalks around the top of the garage. It’s a really neat deal and if I was a fan that would be kind of my ideal situation to view the garage and see how we operate.”

The RCR cars have always been really competitive at Vegas. Are you excited to hit the track with your new team? “Actually, our intermediate program was our strong suit last year with Slugger and I, so I am looking forward to heading back to Las Vegas with him and our Moen/Menards team. It will be business as usual there. We have a good baseline from last year and so does RCR, so we’ll kind of marry the two and see what we have.”

With Nellis Air Force Base right next door to the track, have you ever had the chance to fly with the Thunderbirds? “I have not and I would love to. Something that always fascinated me is how airplanes fly. I actually took some flying lessons years ago. They have the coolest airplanes in the world at Nellis Air Force Base. If we’re out there testing or practicing, the fighter jets are constantly taking off. When they come off the runway, they are basically straight up in the air. To experience that would be a thrill.”

Richard Childress Racing
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race Notes:

RCR at Vegas … In 36 overall starts at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, RCR Chevrolets have earned seven top-five and 13 top-10 finishes with five different drivers – Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt, Kevin Harvick and Mike Skinner. Bowyer and Harvick’s runner-up finishes in March 2008 and February 2010, respectively, are RCR’s best showings at the mile-and-a-half oval.

Five Trophies Missing from the Case … RCR has earned a Sprint Cup Series victory at 18 of the 23 tracks on the 2011 schedule. The only tracks on the current schedule where RCR hasn’t earned wins are Auto Club Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Kansas Speedway and Kentucky Speedway. Additionally, RCR has Sprint Cup Series wins at 21 tracks overall, including North Wilkesboro (N.C.), Riverside (Calif.) and Rockingham (N.C.), which are no longer on the schedule.

Get to the Points … RCR’s four Sprint Cup Series drivers rank 11th (Menard), 21st (Bowyer), 22nd (Harvick) and 32nd (Burton) leading into this weekend’s race at Las Vegas.

RCR on Twitter … To keep up-to-date with the latest news and information and to view exclusive content, visit RCR’s Twitter page – @RCRracing – along with the RCR Sprint Cup Series team Twitter pages – @RCR27PMenard, @RCR29KHarvick, @RCR31JeffBurton and @RCR33CBowyer.

- Richard Childress Racing Press Release

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