Wednesday, May 18, 2011

One Million Reasons Why the Childress Drivers are Looking Forward to the All-Star Race

Kevin Harvick will be using a brand new chassis this week
Kevin Harvick
No. 29 Budweiser-Realtree Chevrolet Impala
Race Notes and Quotes

This Week’s Budweiser-Realtree Chevrolet at Charlotte Motor Speedway … Kevin Harvick will race chassis No. 346 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This is a brand new No. 29 racer that will be put through its first taste of competition this weekend.

Million Dollar Pay Day … In the 2007 running of the Sprint All-Star Race, Harvick started on the outside of row two for the final segment, jumped to the outside on the opening lap and grabbed the lead, and never looked back as he took the checkered flag and won one million dollars.

All-Star Race Notes … In 10 starts in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, Harvick has earned one win (2007), two top five and five top-10 finishes. Combined, he’s led 62 laps, has an average starting position of 8.4 and an average finishing position of 11.1.

Change of Scenery … Harvick’s No. 29 Chevrolet Impala will sport a different look for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The 2007 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race winner will transform his traditional black machine into a No. 29 Budweiser-Realtree Chevrolet, featuring Realtree on the hood, trunk and C-post with camo trim highlighting the body panels of the now-familiar Budweiser theme.

Last Time Around … Harvick and RCR’s No. 29 team started 13th and finished sixth in last year’s All-Star Race. The Bakersfield, Calif., native was able to avoid several incidents during the fourth and final 10-lap segment, advancing three positions from ninth before the checkered flag waved.

In the Loop … Harvick owns several notable loop data statistics in the All-Star Race as he enters this weekend: fourth in closers, fourth in laps led, fifth in green-flag passes, sixth in drivers fastest late in a run, eighth in fastest on restarts, eighth in laps in the top 15 (380) and ninth in driver rating (81.6).


Talk about the upcoming NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. “All-Star week is always a lot of fun. The crew guys are a big part of All-Star weekend with the pit stop competition and they’re a big part of the race. It’s an important week for us to see what we have, competition wise, heading into the (Coca-Cola) 600 and really evaluate the performance of the race car on the race track a week before the race. It’s a fun week and there’s a lot of money on the line. I guess it’s a really good paying test session but it’s a lot of fun, too.”

How important is it to use the All-Star Race as an information gathering event for the Coca-Cola 600?

“Everything you do in that race is at night and the (Coca-Cola) 600 ends at night. You have to take what you do in the All-Star race and the daytime practices and mix those two together and rely on a lot of past notes. You may try some new things, too, and have a set-up that’s adjustable for 600 miles.”

Jeff Burton has three Charlotte wins, but none in the All-Star race
Jeff Burton
No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet Impala
Race Notes and Quotes

This Week’s Caterpillar Chevrolet at Charlotte Motor Speedway … Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 344 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Built brand new for the 2011 season, this No. 31 racer competed at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March where handling issues relegated Burton to a 21st-place finish before rebounding nicely at Texas Motor Speedway one month later when the 21-time Sprint Cup Series race winner posted his best finish of season thus far of 11th.

Breaking Down Showdown Stats … In 17 full seasons in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Burton has competed in the Sprint Showdown six times – 1995, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2010. His 2003 victory allowed him to transfer into the prestigious All-Star Race where he went on to finish ninth.

No Stranger to CMS … Although the South Boston, Va., native has yet to collect a million dollar payday, he is no stranger to Victory Lane. Burton has visited CMS’ Winner Circle on three separate occasions – May 1999, May 2001 and October 2008.

One Year Ago …Burton and the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing team overcame a 17th-place starting position to finish third in the annual Sprint Showdown 40-lap event. The veteran driver was on the move in the early going, moving into the top 10 on lap six and the top five at lap 12. The South Boston, Va., native traveled to fourth on lap 23 and into third on the ensuing lap, spending the remaining laps trying to reel in the second-place car. But, the handling on the Caterpillar Chevy shifted to the tight side in the closing circuits and Burton couldn’t make up any time on the frontrunners, taking the checkers one position shy of transferring into the All Star event.

How it Works … The Sprint Showdown consists of two 20-lap segments. All laps, both green and yellow, will count in the first segment before pit road opens, allowing teams to pit if they choose to do so. Teams who elect to pit will lose their track position and must line up in the order that they return to the track behind those cars that do not pit. Only green-flag laps will count in the second and final segment. The top-two finishers in the Sprint Showdown will transfer to the All-Star Race.


What are your thoughts on competing in the Sprint Showdown for the second consecutive year?

“It’s disappointing and embarrassing not to be in the All Star race. I’ve won over 20 races and to not capitalize on a lot of opportunities last year to win races certainly has its consequences and this is one of them. At the end of the day, it is what it is. We’ll go to the race track and try to have fun without a lot of pressure. At the same token, it’s not fun if you’re not in the main event. Last year, we made some calculated gambles and ended up having a relatively long green-flag run and that hurt us in finishing first or second. But, we’ll do our best to try and transfer to this year’s All Star event.”

How tough is it having to race your way in to the All Star race? “You, certainly, can’t count on getting in by the fan vote so you have to focus on racing your way in. Drivers want the chance to win a million dollars but, honestly, the trophy is what it’s all about. Money doesn’t motivate me. My job does. The trophy is always going to be there and, to me, that’s a bigger deal than anything else.”

Clint Bowyer is coming off an excellent run at Dover
Clint Bowyer
No. 33 BB&T Chevrolet
Race Notes and Quotes

This Week’s BB&T Chevrolet at Charlotte Motor Speedway … Clint Bowyer will pilot chassis No. 333 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This Chevrolet Impala saw action earlier this season when Bowyer scored a top-10 finish (seventh) at Auto Club Speedway.

Career All-Star Stats … Bowyer has two career appearances in NASCAR’s million-dollar event. In 2008, the four-time Sprint Cup Series winner started ninth and finished 18th, and in his most recent appearance in 2009, he started 17th and finished 12th.

Sprint Showdown … The Emporia Kan., native also has three career starts in the Sprint Showdown at Charlotte Motor Speedway with a career-best finish of sixth coming in the 2007 qualifier. Last year, Bowyer finished 23rd after being involved in an accident with six laps to go.


How do you view the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race? Is it still a big deal to you? “It’s a big deal, but just another race. In this sport, things are so important now. If I’m running second and there’s a green-white-checkered restart, my opinion about that race has changed. Until then, I treat it like it’s just another race. It pays more money, obviously, and the hype and everything is big. It’s not like our teams or us as drivers can pick up the pace and go faster because it’s more money. Yeah, there are no points, so you can take more gambles and take risks you wouldn’t normally take. Aside from that, it’s just another race.”

Along the same lines, would you do something out of character to win it? “It depends on the situation. Like I said, if you’re running second with a green-white-checkered restart, it definitely changes the whole aspect of everything.”

In this day in age, is winning one million dollars still a big deal? “Oh, hell yeah! Winning one million dollars is always going to be a big deal.”

What do you think of the format of the All-Star Race? “It’s good. There’s a lot that happens throughout that race. If you’re in the back, it could possibly set you up to be in position. If you just ran the race straight through, it would be the first four or fives guys that were up front that would win.”

Menard has been sliding lately
Paul Menard
No. 27 Moen/Menards Chevrolet Impala
Race Notes and Quotes

This Week’s Moen/Menards Chevrolet at Charlotte Motor Speedway …Paul Menard will pilot chassis No. 326 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This No. 27 Chevrolet was a brand new addition to the RCR fleet for the 2011 season and was last seen in competition at Bristol Motor Speedway where Menard brought home a fifth-place result after starting from the fourth position. This Impala most recently made laps during the Goodyear tire test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in April.

No Holds Barred … Saturday night marks Menard’s fifth appearance in the Sprint Showdown. He earned his best result of fourth in last year’s no-holds-barred event. Menard ranks fourth in the Loop Data category of Quality Passes and is seventh in Laps in the top 15 with 105 logged laps.


You will have to race your way into the Sprint All-Star Race this weekend. How fun is the Sprint Showdown? “Yeah, we’ll head to Charlotte (Motor Speedway) ready for the short runs. We would have rather been qualified already for the All-Star Race, but the (Sprint) Showdown is a lot of fun. There’s little to no pressure. Obviously, you still want to run well. We’ll also use that as a test session for the (Coca-Cola) 600. We’ll try some things, but we want to race our way into the All-Star Race. I think we have a good shot at it.”

Speaking of the Coca-Cola 600, has using the Sprint Showdown as a practice session proved to be successful for you in the past? “Definitely. Last year, we hit on a couple things that translated over. The weather plays a big role in things, though. If it’s a cold (Sprint) All-Star weekend and a hot (Coca-Cola) 600 weekend, everyone’s setups will change. However, it’s about building a database. It’s the same race track and the same tires. We’ll definitely learn things.”

The format for the All-Star Race is 50 laps, 20, 20, then 10 laps. Do you like the segment style of the Sprint Showdown and All-Star races? “I do. It’s going to be wild for sure. They are short runs, and a lot of us grew up racing short, 25-lap Saturday night races. With the double-file restarts, even in a 500-mile event, there’s little give or take. There’s going to be even more of that in the All-Star Race.”

The All-Star race winner wins one million dollars. Is that still a big deal? “One million dollars is a big deal, but the pride that goes along with it is a much bigger deal.”

What would it mean to have a trophy like that in your house? “It would be a big deal for sure. I’d find a really nice spot for it.”

- Richard Childress Racing, Press Releases

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