Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Childress Drivers Looking For Second RCR Dover Win in 17 Years

RCR has only one since 1993 at Dover
Richard Childress Racing
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race Notes:

RCR at Dover … Richard Childress Racing claims four wins at “The Monster Mile,” three of them coming from Dale Earnhardt and one from Jeff Burton in 2006. Additionally, in 121 collective starts, RCR boasts 22 top-five and 44 top-10 finishes at the Dover, Del., facility. The Welcome, NC., based team has collectively lead 2,146 laps and completed 47,969 of the 53,112 contested laps (90.3 percent) at the one-mile speedway.

The Collective RCR … Over the season’s first 10 races, RCR’s four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series entries have notched two wins, eight top-five and 13 top-10 finishes. The No. 31 team kicked off the 2011 season with a non-points win in the second Duel 150 qualifying race at Daytona International Speedway. The No. 29 team visited Victory Lane at Auto Club Speedway in March and backed that up with a win the following weekend at Martinsville Speedway. RCR-prepared Chevrolets have also completed 12,396 out of 13,216 total laps (93.8 percent) with drivers Clint Bowyer, Burton, Harvick and Paul Menard, who have led a combined 406 laps. At least one RCR driver has led laps in each of the season’s first 10 events.

Many hope to see more Kyle-Harvick drama
Kevin Harvick
No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet Impala
Race Notes and Quotes

This Week’s Budweiser Chevrolet at Dover International Speedway … Kevin Harvick will race chassis No. 299 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. In March, Harvick raced his way to Victory Lane at Auto Club Speedway in this car after starting from the 24th position. The team also utilized this car at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2010 and Harvick drove it to a second-place finish there after starting 34th.

Last Time Around … Harvick and RCR’s No. 29 team started 30th and finished seventh last spring at Dover. In the fall, he started 33rd and finished 15th.

Dover Notes … In 20 starts at Dover International Speedway, Harvick has earned two top-five and seven top-10 finishes. He’s completed 98.3 percent (7,864 of 8,004) total laps and has led 134 laps at the one-mile track. Harvick has an average starting position of 21.8 and an average finishing position of 17.3 at Dover.

A First for Harvick … While Harvick has made 108 starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and 36 total starts at Dover in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series combined, Friday will mark the Bakersfield, Calif., native’s first Truck Series start at the one-mile track. Harvick is entered in the Kevin Harvick Inc. No. 2 Bad Boy Buggies Chevrolet Silverado for the Lucas Oil 200.

The next two races will be important to learn for the Chase. “With Dover and Charlotte, you need to know where you have to be when you come back for the Chase. So these are important weeks for us to put the notebooks where they need to be and have a good understanding of the things that we need to do when it counts.”

What does it take to be successful at the Monster Mile? “Dover is one of those places as a driver that feels really fast. With these kinds of cars, it seems like the forward drive off the corner is the most important thing, but you still have to make your car turn in the center of the corner. As a driver, the car has to be comfortable to be really aggressive. It’s just a fine balance for everything.”

Bowyer's best at Dover has been three eighth-place finishes in 10 starts
Clint Bowyer
No. 33 BB&T Chevrolet
Race Notes and Quotes

This Week’s BB&T Chevrolet at Dover International Speedway
Clint Bowyer will pilot chassis No. 310 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This Chevrolet Impala saw action earlier this season when Bowyer finished 35th at Bristol Motor Speedway after suffering engine failure from damage to the grill in an accident on lap 436.

Career Dover Stats … The FedEx 400 marks Bowyer’s 192nd NSCS start.
* In 10 NSCS starts at Dover, Bowyer owns three top-10 finishes, which were all eighth-place efforts (Sept 2006, June 2007 and Sept 2008).
* He has completed 99.4% of the laps (3,976 of 4,000) contested at “The Monster Mile” during his career.
* The Emporia, Kan., native has led four laps at the one-mile facility.
* Bowyer owns a 19.1 average starting position and an average finishing position of 15.1.

Two-Time Winner … The 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion visited Dover’s Victory Lane twice while running in NASCAR’s junior circuit. Both wins came on the same date, September 26, three years apart from one another, in 2006 and 2009.

Last Time in Dover … After starting 24th, Bowyer and the No. 33 team brought home a 25th-place finish in last year’s September event during the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Dover falls in the month of May. You referred to May as a month that hasn’t been very good to you. Is Dover the same kind of thing as Darlington? “Dover is actually a good track for me. I love Dover and run well there. We’ve practiced, qualified and raced well, yet don’t always finish well. That’s what we need to work on, is getting that strong finish. We’re hit or miss on race day. There will be runs when we’re lightning fast, but there are other runs that we’re going a lap down. It’s always one of those tracks that we come back in the fall and have a good finish after learning from the spring event. We need to be able to capitalize on that and get a good run here in the spring race.”

Some guys hate the corner one entry, others seem to deal with fuel issues and spin their tires up off of turn two. What is the toughest thing for you at Dover, or what do you guard against as far as tricks there? “The toughest part is getting your car to do what you want it to do. I have won two Nationwide Series races there so I’ve had success. I love that race track, but the hardest thing is getting these Sprint Cup cars to do what you want them to do. They don’t want to do that sometimes (laughs).”

You can sling a dirt car around as well as anyone. You can run 500 miles around a place like Daytona in the middle of July. Is Dover a real physical test? “It is. It’s a bigger Bristol and I would definitely say that Bristol is a physical test. Dover is just a bigger, faster, meaner Bristol.”

Is pit road any better there at Dover? Does it feel wider? “It definitely feels wider. It’s without a doubt wider. The pit stalls are still very short. Dover is just one of those places where it’s a short track, but it’s also a mile long.”

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


This Week’s Caterpillar Chevrolet at Dover International Speedway … Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 317 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Built new for 2010, this is the same Caterpillar Chevy Burton drove to an eighth-place finish at Pocono Raceway last August. This Chevrolet racer competed at Michigan International Speedway and Auto Club Speedway last fall where Burton finished 24th and 23rd, respectively. Burton also drove this No. 31 to a 17th-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway earlier this season.

Monster Mile Report … In 34 Sprint Cup Series starts at Dover, Burton boasts one win (September 2006, where he snapped a 176-race winless streak), eight top-five and 15 top-10 finishes. The South Boston, Va., native has earned a 25.3 starting average to go along with a respectable 15.5 finishing average and has led nine different races for a total of 128 laps.

Right Mix at Dover …Since joining RCR in August 2004, Burton has run 13 racesat DIS,garnering a 10.2 average finish with four top-five, seven top-10 and 10 top-15 results. His first start for RCR at the high-banked, one-mile oval resulted in a 33rd-place finish, but he has bounced back nicely and hasn’t finished outside the top 16 since. Burton has had two consecutive second-place finishes at the Monster Mile.

Loopy at the Monster Mile …Burton is the sport’s best green-flag passer with 525 passes made. He is the seventh-best driver in quality passes (289) and drivers fastest late in a run. The South Boston, Va., native ranks ninth in fastest laps run (156) and average running position. Burton also ranks 10th in driver rating (90.2) and laps run in the top 15 with 3,131 laps.

The Big Break … Burton currently owns an 87-race winless streak that he hopes to break in this weekend’s visit with the Monster Mile. The Caterpillar driver’s last visit to Winner’s Circle was in October 2008 when he led the final 57 laps en route to his 21st Sprint Cup Series career win at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

You run well at Dover. You’ve been runner-up twice. How much do you look forward to Dover and getting the year turned around? “We’re in a stretch right now where we have a lot of good race tracks. We need to take advantage of that. We’re also in a real critical part of the year for us. If you’re 20th in points, at some point you have to get it together. It’s time for us to start finishing races the way we’ve been running and capitalizing on some opportunities. We haven’t done that for a long time. Dover has been a track that has been good to us. We typically don’t qualify well there, but we race really well there. It’s a track that qualifying 40th doesn’t hurt you all that much because it’s a long race, and a track you can make passes on. It’s a place that we’re excited about going to. It’s a really hard race track; it’s very difficult. It’s a high-speed Bristol, if there’s such a thing. It’ll get your attention.”

What’s the toughest part of Dover? “Well, pretty much from the time you leave pit road until the time you get back. It’s just a demanding race track. It’s so fast. You have to be on the throttle so much. You really feel like you’re using the tires up every lap, but if you don’t do that, you’re not running fast enough. It’s a balance between being tight enough to make a good lap time, but if you get too tight, it kills the right front tires. For me, it’s a balance between turning good enough without being abusive to the right front tire.”

Is it less dicey since they widened pit road and lengthened it? “Well pit road was definitely hard there’s no question about that. That was one of the most treacherous pit roads, and they most certainly have made it better. Those kinds of improvements only enhance the quality of racing. Those are the kinds of things that every track needs to look at doing. That to me has made Dover a much better race track.”

Is it really tough physically these days? “Yeah, it really is. The thing is with these cars, we continually go faster. The corner speeds continue to get up. That’s what makes it harder on drivers from the physical standpoint are those g-forces. Yes, it is physically tough.”

Menard finished seventh last fall
Paul Menard
No. 27 CertainTeed/Menards Chevrolet Impala
Race Notes and Quotes

This Week’s CertainTeed/Menards Chevrolet at Dover International Speedway … Paul Menard will pilot chassis No. 347 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This No. 27 Chevrolet Impala was a brand new addition to the RCR fleet for the 2011 season and was last seen on track at Auto Club Speedway (Fontana) where Menard brought home a 16th-place result after starting from the 15th position.

Off to Slay “The Monster Mile” … In his seven previous starts at Dover, Menard has finished each of his contested races and completed 98.2 percent of his laps (2,751 of 2,800). He has an average starting position of 23.3 and an average finishing position of 20.4. His best start of ninth and his best finish of seventh were both claimed in last year’s September affair.

A Loopy Year in Review … After 10 races, and in the wake of two disappointing finishes in Saturday night beating and banging, short-track racing, Menard maintains an average running position of 15.57, is ranked 10th in the category of Fastest Drivers Early in a Run and is ranked third in Quality Passes.

How do you feel about where you are in the points? “Well, we took a hit in Richmond. We pretty much struggled all weekend there, but we got back on the lead lap and we were running sixth when we got caught up in a wreck. We’ve had a few races where we feel like we could have capitalized more. We’ve had some good races, but we’ve had some races where we feel like we could have finished better than where we ran. I’d like to get back up in the top- 2 for sure.”

It seems like the races that are coming up should give you some hope. You’ve run well at Dover, Charlotte, and Pocono. “Yeah, our intermediate program is pretty strong. I feel pretty confident about Dover. We ran well there last fall. Charlotte will hopefully be a good track for us. Then we go to Kansas and Pocono, where we should be okay. Short tracks have been our struggle, and that’s what we’re working hard to improve on.”

You finished seventh in Dover last fall, your first top 10 there. Does that give you confidence going back there this weekend? “I’ve always liked Dover. It’s a fun track to drive and race on. We had a good run there last fall, so we have some good notes to make a base out of.”

What’s the toughest part about Dover? “It’s really a wide track. It’s really fast, but the groove opens up. It gets really narrow on the straightaways, so if something happens there, it happens really fast. The backstretch gets really bottled up, too. The track gets blocked easily if there’s a wreck, so you really have to try and stay out of trouble. The concrete has a much different feel than the asphalt does, trying to get over all of the seams in the race track, so you have to get your shock package right.”

- Richard Childress Racing, Press Releases

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