Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Childress Drivers Looking For 31st RCR Daytona Victory Saturday Night

Richard Childress hopes for Daytona results similar to 2010 (Getty) 
Race: Coke Zero 400
July 2, 2011
Location: Daytona International Speedway
Richard Childress Racing
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race Notes:

RCR Rocks Daytona … Dating back to 1986, RCR has won seven poles and owns 30 total victories at the most storied race track on the circuit. RCR owns two Daytona 500 wins (Dale Earnhardt – 1998, Kevin Harvick – 2007), three Coke Zero 400 trophies (Earnhardt – 1990, 1993 and Harvick – 2010) and 14 qualifying races, including 10 straight victories with Earnhardt (1990 – 1999) and the most recent coming with Jeff Burton earlier this year. Harvick became the fourth driver to win back-to-back Budweiser Shootout titles (2009 and 2010) and it marked the seventh win in the exhibition race for RCR, more than any other organization. In addition to Harvick’s victories, Earnhardt won the event five times (1986, ’88, ’91, ’93, and ’95). Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Feb. 2002 and 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series races at Daytona, driving cars fielded by RCR. Harvick drove to Victory Lane in the 2007 NNS opener in the No. 21 Chevrolet and Clint Bowyer won the July 2009 NNS race at the “World Center of Racing.”

Kevin Harvick has two Daytona wins over his career, 2007 & 2010 (Getty)
Kevin Harvick
No. 29 Budweiser Folds of Honor Chevrolet
Race Notes and Quotes

This Week’s Budweiser Folds of Honor Chevrolet at Daytona International Speedway … Kevin Harvick will race chassis No. 343 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Harvick has competed in this car twice so far in 2011: he led five laps before finishing 42nd when the car’s engine expired at Daytona in February and scored a fifth-place finish at Talladega in April.

Stars and Stripes … Budweiser and Harvick will celebrate Fourth of July this weekend with a special patriotic paint scheme selected by adult NASCAR fans. The paint scheme – white with red and blue stars and stripes – won the online vote hosted on Budweiser’s Facebook page by less than 700 votes after five weeks of voting.

Folds of Honor … Harvick’s No. 29 Chevrolet will also feature Folds of Honor, an organization that provides post-secondary educational scholarships for families of U.S. military personnel killed or disabled while serving their country, on the TV panel for Saturday night’s race at Daytona. In addition to the special paint scheme, Budweiser has featured a limited-edition red, white and blue Patriotic Can from Memorial Day through the Fourth of July and will donate a portion of all sales, May 26 – July 10, to Folds of Honor. In total, Budweiser is raising up to $2 million to support Folds of Honor this summer*, which is expected to fund more than 400 scholarships. (*Maximum donation of $2,000,000 includes $100 for every home run hit in select professional baseball games, 5c/case of Budweiser sold 5/26-7/10, and $46,500 for Dave Winfield’s 465 career home runs)

Milestone 375 … Harvick will make his 375th start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. In the midst of his 11th season in the series, Harvick has amassed 17 wins, 83 top fives and 164 top-10 finishes, and has led a total of 3,612 laps thus far in his career.

Harvick at Daytona… In 20 starts at Daytona International Speedway, Harvick has racked up one pole award, two wins, five top-five and eight top-10 finishes. He’s led a total of 162 laps and has an average starting position of 15.4 and an average finishing position of 15.8. Harvick has also completed 92.7 percent (3,237 of 3,493) of the laps run at Daytona since he joined the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit in 2001.

Last Time Around … In last year’s Coke Zero 400, Harvick and the No. 29 RCR team started first and led eight times throughout the race for a total of 28 laps. He passed teammate Clint Bowyer on the final restart and beat the competition to the checkered flag by a 0.092-second margin to score his second Sprint Cup Series points race win at the 2.5-mile track.

In the Loop … Harvick holds a number of loop data statistics at Daytona: second in fastest laps run (63), fifth in closers, seventh in green-flag passes (2,477), eighth in green-flag speed and eighth in laps led (84).


How do you have to approach Daytona with the two-car drafting? “I think as a team we have a set strategy that we’re going to go into that race with this week and see how it works. Whether that’s right or wrong, I don’t know. We’ve talked about it for a couple weeks now and have a good plan.”

Do you like the racing at Daytona now? “The racing would be the same way that it is now if the race tracks – the worst thing in the world that happens to this sport is repaving race tracks. That is the absolute worst thing you can do to make the racing bad is to pave a race track. You look at some of the race tracks that have been paved for five or six years now and I don’t know if it’s the type of asphalt or whatever they’re doing, but the racing isn’t the same that it was and the race tracks just don’t get bad. Basically, if Daytona and Talladega would have been paved like they are now, however many years ago and everybody would have figured out how to do – that car would have done what we do now, it’s just that there’s enough grip on the race track with the way that the asphalt is to allow you to do that. There’s really no way to fix it as far as I’m concerned. Unless you just say, go back to the no bump drafting in the corners. That’s the only way you can really fix it until the grip goes away. Paving the race tracks are a killer for the racing.”

Bowyer is using winning and runner-up car from last two Talladega races
Clint Bowyer
No. 33 Wheaties FUEL Chevrolet
Race Notes and Quotes

This Week’s Wheaties FUEL Chevrolet at Daytona International Speedway … Clint Bowyer will pilot chassis No. 294 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This Chevrolet Impala, built in 2010 specifically for restrictor-place racing, has seen action at four races over the last two seasons, never finishing outside of the top 10. This includes a trip to Talladega Superspeedway’s Victory Lane last October, a fourth-place finish in the 2010 Daytona 500 and a ninth-place finish in this year’s edition of the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona. Most recently, it was on track for a second-place effort in the April Talladega event where Bowyer finished a record-tying 0.002 seconds behind race winner Jimmie Johnson.

Career Daytona Stats … This weekend’s 400 miler marks Bowyer’s 198th career NSCS start.
* In 11 NSCS starts at “The World Center of Racing,” Bowyer owns two top-five and six top-10 finishes, posting his best finish of fourth twice – once in the 2009 Daytona 500 and the other one year later in the “Great American Race.”
* Bowyer has completed 99.9% (1,980 of 1,981) of the laps contested at the Daytona Beach, Fla.-based track during his career.
* The Emporia, Kan., native has led 146 laps at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.
* Bowyer owns a 19.4 average starting position and an average finishing position of 13.2.

Bowyer in Black … This weekend under the lights, Wheaties FUEL will put “Bowyer in Black” as the No. 33 Chevrolet will feature a black-and-orange paint scheme for the Coke Zero 400. The scheme was voted in last month by Bowyer’s fans through a special online sweepstakes promotion.

Getting Loopy on Lake Lloyd …Bowyer holds some impressive loop data statistics on the high banks of Daytona. The four-time Sprint Cup Series race winner is fifth in laps led (146), sixth in driver rating (89.1), eighth in average running position, 10th in green-flag passes (2,327) and 12th in quality passes (passing a car in the top 15 while running under green) with 1,290 passes. He has also run 1,067 laps in the top 15.

Former Winner … The 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion won from the pole after leading 48 of the 102 laps contested in the 2009 NNS event. It was Bowyer’s first career restrictor-plate victory.

Wine Country … After starting from the ninth position, Bowyer and the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet team spent 96 of 110 laps running in the top 15 en route to their third top-five finish of the 2011 season, finishing fourth in the Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway.

Points Racing … With his strong top-five run last weekend, Bowyer jumped two positions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings to eighth. He now sits just 77 markers out of first and 40 points out of the top five.


Did the new pavement really change the racing surface at Daytona? “Yeah, it really did. Our 17th-place finish in the Daytona 500 didn’t really show our efforts there. With five or six laps to go, we were one of six cars that were going to have a shot at winning. It was a three, two-car break-a-way at the end and we were one of them. We just got wiped out. Someone got turned down low and ran us into the wall. We made it a lot longer than most of them. We just didn’t make it as long as Trevor Bayne did.”

Are you on terms with two-car drafting? “Oh yeah, I like it. I really do. It gives you something to focus on and work on all race long instead of just riding along. With so much on the line, you need to get yourself a good finish and give yourself the best odds. Before, I would go to the back, ride for awhile to stay out of trouble and let that big wreck to happen if it’s going happen. After that, you would put yourself in position at the end to win the thing. That was the smart thing to do. Now, you can kind of prevent that from happening. You can get latched onto a teammate that you know you’re on common ground with. You know him and what he’s going to do. On top of that, you’re talking to him back and forth on the radio. I just like that situation better. You can kind of control your destiny a little bit more. If you’re running well and want to stay up front, why not lead laps and be on TV for your fans and your sponsors? If not, go to the back because, together, you know you can get right back up there when it’s time.”

Can you explain what it is like to push someone at 200 mph when visibility is a problem? "You know, it’s not really that big of a deal as some people think it is. The biggest thing you have to figure out is how to push him the longest and keep your car cool. It’s about moving out to the left side and getting some air in your grill and doing it at the right time so you don’t loose time. As soon as you duck out, you’re pushing a lot bigger hole through the air and the cars behind you have that much more air to suck up onto. You really have to be careful when to pull out and cool your car and when not to. At the end, you need to have that thing cooled down so you can stay single file and tight up to him. That way, you can have a shot at winning.”

What did you think about Trevor Bayne winning the Daytona 500? “He’s a super kid. I’m very happy for him. Obviously, I’m really happy for the Wood Brothers. That win turned their whole program around. They’ve had sponsorship and been to the track in a lot bigger fashion, but now they’ve had a lot bigger excitement around their team and that’s because of Trevor Bayne and the wonderful job he did. I don’t know if he paid his dues quite yet, but certainly happy for him and everyone involved. That was a huge win.”

Jeff Burton will be using his winning Gatorade car from February (Getty)
Jeff Burton
No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet Impala
Race Notes and Quotes

This Week’s Caterpillar Chevrolet at Daytona International Speedway … Jeff Burton will race Chassis No. 331 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend’s Coke Zero 400. Built new for the 2011 season, this No. 31 racer first competed in the second Duel 150 qualifying race at Daytona International Speedway where Burton drove it to victory. He then raced this Caterpillar Chevrolet in the 53rd running of the Daytona 500 that ended eight laps shy of the halfway mark when the engine suddenly expired, crediting the No. 31 team with a 36th-place finish. Burton also drove this RCR racer to a 16th-place result at Talladega Superspeedway after starting 27th earlier this season.

Daytona Details … Burton is the 2006 Daytona 500 pole sitter and a former winner at the famed Daytona International Speedway when he claimed victory under the lights in the July 2000 Sprint Cup Series event. He was also victorious at the second Duel qualifying race in February earlier this year. In 35 starts at the ‘World Center of Racing,’ Burton has posted one win, seven top-five and nine top-10 finishes and has led 118 laps of competition.

Loopy at Daytona … Burton has some notable Daytona stats: Second in Fastest Drivers Early in a Run, Third in Fastest Drivers Late in a Run, Thirdin Green Flag Passes (2,685), Third in Green Flag Speed, Fourth in Speed in Traffic and Seventh in Quality Passes (1,632).

A Career Milestone … This weekend’s Coke Zero 400 will mark Burton’s 600th career start in NASCAR’s premier division, ranking him 22nd on the All-Time Sprint Cup Series starts list. TheSouth Boston, Va., native is also tied with Bobby Labonte, Benny Parsons and Jack Smith for 29th on the all-time wins list with 21 victories, including his first at Texas Motor Speedway’s inaugural event in 1997, back-to-back wins at Darlington Raceway in 1999, two Coca-Cola 600 wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1999 and 2001, and under the lights at Daytona International Speedway in 2000. In 19 years of Sprint Cup Series competition, Burton has compiled six poles, 128 top-five and 237 top-10 finishes.

Burton Meets Ochocinco … Before heading to the 2.5-mile tri-oval in Daytona Beach, Burton will stop at Atlanta Motor Speedway Thursday morning where he will meet Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco. The two will make hot laps before Ochocinco teams up with the No. 31 Caterpillar pit crew for a work out and pit stop instructional.

Meet the Driver … On behalf of Coca-Cola, Burton will sign autographs at the Walmart store located at 1101 Beville Road in Daytona Beach, Fla., on Friday, July 1, beginning at 12 noon.

Happy Birthday, Jeff … Caterpillar driver Jeff Burton will celebrate his 44th birthday on Wednesday, June 29. He is the sixth-oldest driver listed on this weekend’s entry list behind Dave Blaney, Bobby Labonte, Terry Labonte, Mark Martin and Joe Nemechek.


Did you make too quick of an exit from the Daytona 500 to experience what you’re going to see in July? “No. We ran almost half of the race and being that I’ve ran at Daytona multiple times so we’ll be fine. I feel really good about our (restrictor) plate program. We led a lot of laps at those races this year. You have to approach Daytona much more like Talladega now. I think that will be the same for the Coke Zero 400. I don’t see any possible way that the track has lost enough grip that you wouldn’t approach it like a Talladega race. You’re going to expect a lot more bump drafting and a lot of the two-car break-a-ways.”

How comfortable are you with the two-car breakaway and two-car draft? “I’m really comfortable with it. I like it a lot. I don’t have any issue with it. It’s difficult to see when you’re the guy pushing. There are a lot of challenges and some of it gets your attention. We adapted to that pretty quickly. We worked real hard at it practicing for the (Daytona) 500. By the time the race came around, I feel like we had adapted to it pretty well. I’m pretty comfortable with it.”

Explain what it’s like to be pushing someone at 200 mph. “Well, you literally can’t see. The only thing that you can see is if you’re approaching turn one and you look out of the side window, you can see the middle of (turns) one and two. But, you can’t see anything in front of you. You have no idea what you’re catching. You’re totally committed to that guy in front of you. He’s communicating with you – telling you what’s going on. You’re committed to your spotter. It’s truly blind racing.”

What did you think of Trevor Bayne winning the Daytona 500? “It’s always cool to see someone new in the sport have success. It’s always cool to see a team like the Wood Brothers have success. You had both of them there. The (Daytona) 500 has turned into what would almost be a wild card race today. The only thing that has been disappointing for me about the (Daytona) 500 in modern history is it used to be that the greats of the sport won the race. With the (restrictor) plate races being so different than it’s ever been before, that’s opened the door for people that may not have had success at other places have success at the (Daytona) 500. That’s good and bad. It’s good because it propelled Trevor Bayne, someone new to our sport for spectators to say ‘wow, a rookie won the Daytona 500.’ That’s good for our sport. On the other hand, it’s a little odd because we have people winning races that haven’t had much success anywhere else. It’s two fold. I thought it was cool for both Trevor Bayne and the Wood Brothers. But, for the Wood Brothers in particular and their history in the sport, it was pretty cool to see the No. 21 back in Victory Lane.

Menard impressive in plate race
Paul Menard
No. 27 Quaker State/Menards Chevrolet Impala
Race Notes and Quotes

This Week’s Quaker State/Menards Chevrolet at Daytona International Speedway … Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 338 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 the track at Talladega Superspeedway when Menard brought home a 12th-place result after starting from the fifth position. Menard also drove this racer at DIS in February, where he turned the fourth-fastest lap during qualifying for the Duel 150′s. He started on the front row for the first of the two qualifier races and finished ninth. He then started 19th in the 53rd running of the famed Daytona 500 and finished ninth, his career-best finish at Daytona.

Starting up front at Daytona … Menard earned his one career NSCS pole position at Daytona International Speedway. In 2008, he claimed the pole award for the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona (July). The following year, he started the Budweiser Shootout from the pole position when he drew the top spot during Budweiser’s annual Shootout Draw Party.

Daytona Tidbits …
* In eight previous starts at a track that is notorious for the field-reducing ‘Big One,’ Menard has completed an impressive 98.9% of his laps (1,401 of 1,416).
* He has an average starting position of 23.6 and an average finishing position of 19.9, with his best finish of ninth coming in this year’s Daytona 500, where he led for 11 laps.
* Menard has led for a total of 30 circuits around the 2.5-mile tri-oval over the course of his five-year NSCS career.

A Loopy Year in Review … After 16 races, the Eau Claire, Wisc., native maintains an average running position of 16.29, has made the third-highest number of green-flag passes (1,923), has spent 48.5 percent of his contested laps racing in the top 15 and is ranked third in quality passes. He has also completed 94.2 percent of his laps (4,578 of 4,858).

Race Rewind … Paul Menard made his career-best start of third at Infineon Raceway in last weekend’s Save Mart 350. With damaged fenders on the No. 27 Duracell/Menards Chevrolet, he battled a tight-handling condition throughout the 110-lap event. His 17th-place finish marks his career-best finish at the Sonoma, Calif.-based road course; however, he fell to 17th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.


You had a great run in this year’s Daytona 500. How do you feel about going back to Daytona (International Speedway), and will the things you learned in February carry over to the July race? “I think you are going to see a repeat of the (Daytona) 500 as far as the two-car drafts are concerned. It’s going to be hotter, but the track has so much grip that it won’t really matter. There will still be two-car breakaways and we’ll manage that the best we can. I am definitely looking forward to returning with power that the ECR (Earnhardt-Childress Racing) engines give us.”

Do you like the two-car breakaway? “I like it a lot better than the pack drafting. There’s a lot more control in the driver’s hands. Restrictor-plate racing still isn’t my favorite type of racing. It is a total crapshoot once you’re out there.”

Describe what it’s like to push someone at 200 mph. Is there a feeling of lack of control? “Yeah, you really can’t see anything. You can see more once you get to the corners because you can kind of look up through the top of the windshield over the car in front of you. When you’re going down the straightaway, you really have no idea where he’s going. You have to take a snap shot of what’s happening in front of you when you go through the corner because you can see then. You have to work off that picture in your mind when you’re going down the front and back stretch.”

By Trevor Bayne winning the Daytona 500, does that give people confidence that if you hit on something and keep persevering, anyone can win the race? “Honestly, it’s restrictor-plate racing and anything can happen. You always have some wrecks where good cars get taken out early. That opens the door for some guys that may not be able to compete every week for wins. Trevor had a really strong car in February and the end of the race played in his favor. I am very confident that we’ll have a strong car this weekend when we go back to Daytona. It’s anyone’s ball game there.”

- Richard Childress Racing, Press Releases

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