Wednesday, June 1, 2011

RCR Drivers Seeking First Team Win in 31st Kansas Start

An RCR driver has never won at Kansas (Getty)
Richard Childress Racing
Race: STP 400
June 5, 2011
Location: Kansas Speedway

One Trophy Missing from the Shelf … Surprisingly enough, in 30 NSCS starts at Kansas Speedway, RCR has only three top-five and eight top-10 finishes. RCR’s best finish at Kansas was Clint Bowyer’s runner-up finish in 2007. All told, RCR has a 24.6 starting average and a 16.5 average finish at the metropolitan Kansas City race course. The only other tracks on the current schedule where RCR hasn’t earned Sprint Cup Series wins are Homestead-Miami Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The Collective RCR … Over the season’s first 12 races, RCR’s four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series entries have notched three wins, nine 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. Most recently, Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 team visited Winner Circle at Charlotte Motor Speedway, claiming the checkers in one of NASCAR’s marquee events – the Coca-Cola 600. RCR-prepared Chevrolets have also completed 15,580out of 16,324 total laps (95.4 percent) with drivers Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Harvick and Paul Menard, who have led a combined 443 laps. At least one RCR driver has led laps in each of the season’s first 12 events.

Get to the Points … Following the Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte, Harvick advanced three spots, to second, in the point standings where he sits 36 markers in arrears to the top spot while Bowyer remains in eighth, 27 points in arrears to cracking the top five. Menard moved to 20th in the standings, 47 points outside the top 10 while Burton gained one spot, to 22nd, sitting 24 markers in arrears to Menard’s tally.

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

Clint Bowyer has lots of incentive to win at his home track (Getty)
Clint Bowyer
No. 33 American Ethanol Chevrolet
Race Notes and Quotes

This Week’s American Ethanol Chevrolet at Kansas Speedway … Clint Bowyer will pilot chassis No. 360 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This is a brand new Chevrolet Impala that will be put through its first paces in this weekend’s 400-mile contest.

Career Kansas Stats … The STP 400 marks Bowyer’s 194th career NSCS start.
* In five NSCS starts at Kansas, Bowyer owns one top-five and two top-10 finishes, posting his best finish of second in 2007.
* He has completed 99.9 percent of the laps (1,277 of 1,278) contested at Kansas during his career.
* The Emporia, Kan., native has led 43 laps at the 1.5-mile facility.
* Bowyer owns an average starting position of 15th and an average finishing position of 11.8.

Home Sweet Home … Bowyer, a native of Emporia, Kan., grew up just over 100 miles southwest of Kansas Speedway. He graduated from Emporia High School and attended Flint Hills Technical College. He began his career racing motorcycles in his native Kansas when he was five years old and made the transition to four wheels in 1996, racing Street Stocks at Thunderhill Speedway in Mayetta, Kan. Over the next seven seasons, he went on to win dirt modified championships at Thunderhill Speedway (2000), Lakeside Speedway (2001 & 2002) and Heartland Park Topeka (2001). Bowyer also won an asphalt late model championship at the famed I-70 Speedway in Odessa, Mo. and the 2002 NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Midwest Championship.

Getting Loopy … Bowyer holds some impressive Loop Data Statistics through the first 12 points-paying races of the 2011 season. He is currently ranked third among all drivers in the category of average running position, with an 11.835 average. He has an average driver rating of 95 (a formula combining wins, finishes, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes), ranking him fourth among all drivers. In addition, he leads all drivers in quality passes (passing a car in the top 15 while running under green) with 975 quality passes so far this season.

Double Duty … For the second consecutive NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, Bowyer will be behind the wheel of the No. 2 Bad Boy Buggies Chevrolet Silverado for Kevin Harvick Inc. as he returns to a hometown crowd to compete in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 on Saturday, June 4. Bowyer has yet to make a NCWTS start at his home track, but has had solid runs at the 1.5-mile D-shaped oval in NASCAR’s other two premier series. Flag-to-flag coverage of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 will be televised live on SPEED beginning at 2 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, and broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius XM Satellite Radio beginning at 1:45 p.m. EDT.

Points Racing … With his 15th-place result last weekend in Charlotte, Bowyer maintained eighth-place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings. He now sits 80 markers out of first.


Bowyer using a brand new car this week at Kansas (Getty)
What are your thoughts about running two races at Kansas Speedway?
“I’m really excited about it. I’m just proud to be from Kansas. It is amazing to see what the track has brought to that area. It’s really cool. Every year that we go back, they always have something new. That’s what makes me proud about that area and what they’ve been able to accomplish there. Kansas is becoming one of those tracks that everyone likes going to just because of the area and how much there is to do there.”

I know you’re going to win there. Do you think it’s going to be like a Trevor Bayne-Daytona 500 moment?
“I don’t even know. That’s a pretty big moment to top, but it would be big. We’ve gotten close, including that deal with Biffle in 2007. We ran well the first couple races there, but we’ve struggled here as of late. It’s an important track for me and it would be a helluva party, I can promise you that (laughs).”

You saw that track (Kansas Speedway) being built. Tell that story. “Yeah, right there at the intersection of I-70 and I-435, it’s just amazing. That’s the route you took to get to the dirt track at Lakeside. To drive by there and see the growth was really cool. It was nothing but an old, bad part of town and now it’s one of the best and new places to go in the whole city.”

Did you ever dream of wanting to race there?
“Oh yeah. Once it was built, I drove by it every week and would set goals just to be able to drive there in anything. I never dreamed I would be able to drive an ARCA car there, let alone start a race in a Sprint Cup Series car.”

Do you carry a lot of speed going down into the corners like you do at other 1.5-mile race tracks?
“Yeah, it’s fast and fairly slick. It’s a difficult place to get around. It doesn’t really race like your typical 1.5-mile race tracks. I think that’s just because of the grip level. It’s hard to hook the bottom. It’s hard to get up top and find grip and get that momentum around the race track. It makes for a fun race. It really does.”

Does Chicagoland Speedway carry similar characteristics?
“Yeah, but it’s even a little bit more slick than that. Trying to hook the bottom in turns three and four is very difficult. We were getting to the point last year where I could roll through turns one and two up high, but hooking that bottom when you’re out front in clean air is so important. You have to be able to sail around that bottom.”

Harvick is using a strong car from the 2010 season this week at Kansas
Kevin Harvick
No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet Impala
Race Notes and Quotes

This Week’s Budweiser Chevrolet at Kansas Speedway … Kevin Harvick will race chassis No. 318 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. The team utilized this race car three times in 2010, earning finishes of third (Kansas, October 3), eighth (Charlotte, October 16) and sixth (Texas, November 7).

Kansas Notes … In 10 starts at Kansas Speedway, Harvick has earned one top five and four top-10 finishes. He’s led 83 laps, has an average starting position of 24.3 and an average finishing position of 14.6. Harvick has also completed 95.8 percent (2,503 of 2,613) of the laps run at Kansas.

Last Time Around … Harvick and RCR’s No. 29 team scored their best-ever finish at Kansas Speedway in 2010. Harvick started the race from 24th position, led 16 laps and finished third.

In the Loop … Harvick owns several notable loop data statistics at Kansas as he enters this weekend’s race: fourth in green-flag passes (399), seventh in fastest laps run (59), eighth in average running position, eighth in driver fastest early in a run and ninth in driver rating (87.1).

Double Up … In addition to his Sprint Cup Series schedule in the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet this weekend, Harvick will fly to Joliet, Ill., on Saturday to compete in the Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway in the No. 33 Rheem Chevrolet for Kevin Harvick Inc. ESPN will air Saturday’s STP 300 live starting with the pre-race show at 7:30 p.m. EDT. MRN Radio will provide the live radio broadcast.


Talk about Kansas as far as them having two races and what do you expect from Kansas? “You never really know until you get to a particular area. Sometimes you look at two races – the old saying don’t make two mediocres out of one good, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I think California is a good example of that. With the people that they have around them that support the crowds, they’re probably a one-race track. Kansas has always been sold out and had a great atmosphere and had a great attendance. If both races are still sold out then it’s a success. If it’s not then you need to go to Iowa.”

The first Kansas race is going to be in June. Do you have to throw out all the notes and start over? “No, you don’t have to throw out all the notes. You will have somewhere to start. It really depends on what tire they bring as to what direction to go with your car. So you adjust to that and the tires are constant evolution. Goodyear trying to make things better and trying to make more technology and do things so you have to keep up with that side of it. The cars evolve constantly from an aerodynamic standpoint. The weather will probably be warmer so things will definitely change a little bit but it won’t be an overhaul.”

Burton has shown signs of breaking through the last few races (Getty)
Jeff Burton
No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet Impala
Race Notes and Quotes

This Week’s Caterpillar Chevrolet at Kansas Speedway … Jeff Burton will pilot chassis No. 355 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Built new for the 2011 season, this No. 31 racer was put through its first competitive paces at Darlington Raceway a few weeks ago. Burton was well on his way to posting his first top-10 effort this season but the engine on the Caterpillar Chevrolet expired with just under 20 laps remaining, resulting in a disappointing 33rd-place finish.

Kansas Details … In 10 starts at Kansas Speedway, Burton boasts one top-five, two top-10 and five top-15 finishes with his best finish of fifth coming in October 2006. He has a 27th-place starting average coupled with an 18.5 finishing average and has completed 97.8 percent of laps contested.

Last Time Around … In last season’s 400 miler, Burton started 23rd and, on the strength of a fast No. 31 Chevrolet, he advanced to fifth by lap 108. However, the turning point in the race came 80 laps later when a loose-handling condition transpired and set the tone for the remainder of the event, resulting in an 18th-place finish.

Former Winner … The South Boston, Va., native visited Kansas Speedway’s Victory Lane in 2002 when he took the checkers first in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race after starting second and leading 48 laps en route to victory.

Eye on the Prize … Despite sitting 22nd in the Sprint Cup Series point standings, Burton and the Todd Berrier-led team are not out of the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup hunt. With 14 races remaining before the 12-member Chase class is set, Burton can still make a championship run by gaining 71 points and cracking the top 10 or visiting Victory Lane at least one time, depending on other driver victories and where they are stationed in the points rundown.

Welcome Home … Two members from the Cat Racing team hail from the Sunflower State. Aaron Schields, rear-tire carrier on the Caterpillar Chevrolet, calls Goodland home while Chris Tidwell, mechanic on the No. 31 entry, is from Emporia.


What are your thoughts about running two races at Kansas Speedway?
“I think it’s a track that has deserved the right to have two races. It’s a track that is highly supported by the fans. A lot of people come out and are enthusiastic about being there. If we’re going to run somewhere twice, that’s where we need to be. We need to be in places where people want to go to a race twice. I think it’s a good thing we’re there twice.”

This is another track where your finishes haven’t shown how well you’ve run there.
“No, not really. We’ve struggled a little there. It hasn’t been our best race track. I can’t really think of a time that we had a car to win at Kansas. I struggle at Kansas. We need to look real hard and see what we need me, as a driver, and us, as a team, to be better there because it hasn’t been a good track for us.”

Talk about Kansas as a race track.
“Typically, tracks get better as they get older. I think Kansas is a good example of that. You see a lot of different options and drivers running different grooves. I think that’s a good thing.”

Talk about the amount of speed you carry into the corners at Kansas.
“Kansas isn’t a fast-feeling type of race track. Texas and Charlotte feel quite a bit faster than Kansas. Kansas is more of a rhythm-hailing race track, whereas the other ones are too, but they have more grip.”

Menrad is using fifth-place Texas chassis
Paul Menard
No. 27 Zecol/Menards Chevrolet Impala
Race Notes and Quotes

This Week’s Zecol/Menards Chevrolet at Kansas Speedway … Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 351 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 Texas Motor Speedway where Menard brought home a fifth-place result after starting from the 19th position.

By the Numbers at Kansas … In his four career NSCS starts at Kansas, Menard has finished each of his contested races and completed 99.7 percent of his laps (1,008 of 1,011), leading for 11 circuits. He has an average starting position of 12.8 and an average finishing position of 23rd. The last time around (October 2010), Menard made his best start of second and logged his best finish of eighth. He also has three top 10s in five NASCAR Nationwide Series starts, claiming the pole position in his first NNS visit to the 1.5-mile oval (October 2004) and one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start in July 2003.

A Loopy Year in Review … After 12 races, Menard maintains an average running position of 16.7 and is ranked third in Quality Passes. He has also completed 93.2 percent of his laps (3,803 of 4,091).


What are your thoughts about running two races at Kansas Speedway?
“I like Kansas (Speedway). It’s a beautiful track. It’s very ‘Midwestern’ with great race fans. I’m really glad they gave us another race date there.”

Does it feel a little bit like home when you go there?
“A lot like home. I’ll have some people shoot down I-35 from Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin to come watch the race.”

You finished eighth last year and led 11 laps. What do you remember about that race?
“We were fast all day long. We led a little bit. Then I think we had a bad pit stop on the last stop which put us back a couple spots. It was one of those races that you wish you could have a ‘do-over.’ I think we could have come away with a top five pretty easily.”

Talk about how racy Kansas has become since the new asphalt.
“Well, the track is very wide now. Even in practice, you’ll see people running up by the fence. That’s always a good sign for the race.”

In terms of speed in turn one, is it different than any other 1.5-mile racetracks?
“No, but the turn one entry seems to be a little bit wider like you’re turning before you actually start slowing down compared to Texas (Motor Speedway) or Charlotte (Motor Speedway). Obviously, they’re shaped differently. But, there’s a really wide entry into turn one, you don’t feel the speed like you do at a track like Texas.”

- Richard Childress Racing, Press Releases

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