RCR has earned four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins at Dover International Speedway, most recently in September 2006 when Jeff Burton drove the No. 31 Chevrolet to Victory Lane in the Dover 400. Three additional victories came with Dale Earnhardt behind the wheel, winning both events at the “Monster Mile” in 1989 as well as the spring race in 1993. RCR has earned one pole award, 23 top-five and 49 top-10 finishes in 132 combined starts at the high-banked, one-mile oval. Childress, a former driver in NASCAR’s top division, contributed three of those top 10s from 1976-1980.
Paul Menard #27 CertainTeed/Menards Chevrolet
This Week’s CertainTeed/Menards Chevrolet at Dover International Speedway … Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 379 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend’s AAA 400. This Chevrolet was last raced at Pocono Raceway in August, where he started third and finished 11th. It was also utilized earlier this season at Charlotte Motor Speedway (July) in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race where Menard finished 16th, Kansas Speedway where he finished 18th and Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March where he finished seventh.
Menard at the “Monster Mile” … In 10 previous starts at Dover International Speedway, Menard has finished each contested race and has completed 98.5 percent of his laps (3,947 of 4,000). He has an average starting position of 20.6 coupled with a 20th-place average finishing position. Menard made his best start of third during the 2011 AAA 400 (October) and claimed his best finish of seventh at the September 2010 event.
By the Numbers in 2012 … With 28 points-paying events of the 2012 season complete, Menard sits 16th in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings on the merit of seven top-10 and 17 top-15 finishes. In his sophomore season with RCR, Menard has a 16th-place average starting position, an average finishing position of 14.9, maintains an Average Running Position of 17.164 and has completed 99.7 percent of his laps (7,809 of 7,831), the fourth-best of all drivers.
Racing Close to Home … The No. 27 team rear-tire carrier Ray Wright grew up in Charlotte Hall, Md., southeast of Washington D.C. and approximately 2.5 hours from the Dover, Del.-based race track.
Double Duty Weekend … In addition to his driving duties with RCR’s No. 27 team, Menard will drive the No. 33 Rheem/Menards Chevrolet in Saturday’s 200-mile NASCAR Nationwide Series race at the Dover, Del.-based facility The race will air live on ESPN2 beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Race Rewind … Menard and the Pittsburgh Paints/Menards team rallied back to a 16th-place finish in the closing laps of the 2011 AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway after working to neutralize the handling of the No. 27 Chevrolet Impala throughout the majority of the day at the “Monster Mile.”
In the Rearview Mirror: New Hampshire Motor Speedway … Starting from the seventh position, Menard drove the No. 27 SYLVANIA/Menards Chevrolet to a 12th-place finish in the SYLVANIA 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, earning both his career-best start and finish at the one-mile oval.
You finished 17th at Dover International Speedway earlier this year. Talk about your run. “Dover (International Speedway) is a track that we’ve run well at in the past and we’ve struggled at in the past. It’s a tough place. It changes a lot. It seems like every time we go there, we have a different Goodyear tire. The track rubbers in differently, so a lot of times you don’t know what to expect. You prepare all you can, and when you unload you see how the tires work with the surface. You really don’t know until that first practice session.”
Have you progress enough that you anticipate breaking into the top 10 at Dover International Speedway? “Absolutely. We’ve finish in the top 10 at Dover (International Speedway) before and we can do it again.”
Talk about narrowness of Dover International Speedway and how careful you have to be there. “The corners at Dover (International Speedway) are really wide and then it funnels down into pretty narrow straightaways with walls on either side. So if something happens, there’s a strong likelihood that everything is going to stack up. We’ve seen the straightaways completely blocked before. The spotters have to stay on their toes and drivers have to be looking ahead, which is tough because there’s so much banking and it’s hard to see very far ahead.”
Bristol Motor Speedway is another high-banked concrete race track. Are there any similarities between it and Dover International Speedway? “Things happen quicker at Bristol (Motor Speedway), but you’re going faster at Dover (International Speedway). At both tracks, the seams of the concrete both affect the car. It’s a rougher ride on concrete. Outside of that, you can’t translate your setup from one track to the other.”
What did you think of Dover International Speedway the first time you raced there? “It was an eye-opener for sure. Dover (International Speedway) is a fast place. But it’s a race track like the others. It’s a circle that you turn left at a lot. At Dover you have to deal with falling into the corner and the banking. You drive into the hold on entry and that’s probably the hardest part.”
Kevin Harvick #29 Budweiser Chevrolet
This Week’s Budweiser Chevrolet at Dover International Speedway … Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No.383 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend’s AAA 400. Harvick raced this chassis at Phoenix International Raceway in March and Dover International Speedway in June, collecting second-place finishes in both events. Most recently, the Bakersfield, Calif., native drove this Chevrolet to a 15th-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway in August.
Just the Stats … This weekend’s event at Dover International Speedway marks Harvick’s 423rd career start in the Sprint Cup Series and 24th at the one-mile track. Since 2001, the 36-year-old driver has collected three top-five and 10 top-10 finishes, with his best finish of second coming during the event in June 2012. Harvick maintains a 20.6 average starting position, coupled with a16th-place average finishing position, has completed 98.5 percent (9,064 of 9,204) of laps contested and is credited with 144 laps led.
Getting Loopy at the “Monster Mile” … Harvick has made 15 Sprint Cup Series starts at the Dover, Del.,-based facility since the inception of NASCAR’s Loop Data Statistics in 2006. Harvick has spent 3,372 Laps in the Top 15 and is credited with 11 Laps Led. The RCR driver holds an Average Starting Position of 19.5 and a 15.7 Average Finishing Position. He has completed 646 Green Flag Passes, ranking him third in the Loop Data category.
The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup … Following the second event of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Harvick moved up two positions, to eighth, in the “Chase” standings, 31 markers behind leader Jimmie Johnson.
The Last Time By … Harvick and the No. 29 Chevrolet team picked up a 10th-place finish in the 2011 AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway and inherited the lead in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings.
In the Rearview Mirror: New Hampshire Motor Speedway … Harvick and the No. 29 Budweiser team captured an 11th-place finish after battling handling issues in the SYLVANIA 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon.
What does it take to be successful at Dover International Speedway? “Dover (International Speedway) 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.”
What are some of the challenges for your team in going to Dover International Speedway this weekend? “We’ve had a good car at Dover International Speedway the last several times and haven’t necessarily got the finishes that we probably have deserved with where we ran all day, but it’s been a decent race track for us. It’s a fast race track. You’ve got to keep up with the track as the groove moves around and the rubber builds up on the track. The biggest challenge is being able to get the car up off of the corner under power, wide open throughout the whole run.”
Jeff Burton #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet
This Weekend’s No. 31 Chevrolet at Dover International Speedway … Jeff Burton will race Chassis No. 392 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable this weekend. This No. 31 Chevrolet was utilized in June at Dover International Speedway where engine issues thwarted Burton’s top-five run and relegated him to a 22nd-place finish. This was car also raced at Kentucky Speedway in June where Burton piloted this machine to a 24th-place finish after starting 29th.
Career Dover Stats … This weekend’s 400-mile event marks Burton’s 38th start at the one-mile facility and 648th-career Sprint Cup Series entry. Burton has garnered one win, eight top-five and 15 top-10 finishes at the track and has led 136 laps.
No Stranger to Victory Lane … Burton has made two previous visits to Dover International Speedway’s Victory Lane in Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series competition. Both victories came with the Welcome, N.C.-based RCR team during the 2006 season, notching one win in each series.
Getting Loopy in “The First State” … Burton has accrued impressive NASCAR Loop Data statistics at Dover International Speedway since their inception in 2006. Of all drivers entering the event, he has the most Green Flag Passes (715), with 383 coming while running in the top 15 (sixth-most). Burton has also spent 3,939 Laps In The Top 15, which ranks him 10th amongst his competitors. He also has the 12th-best Average Running Position (13.47) and a 12th-best Driver Rating (89.1) at the Dover, Del.-based facility.
Race Rewind: New Hampshire Motor Speedway … Burton and the No. 31 Wheaties Chevrolet team battled handling issues throughout the day and persevered for a top-15 finish in the SYLVANIA 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after starting the race in the 11th position.
Points Racing … After 28 points-paying events of the 36-race Sprint Cup Series season, Burton has scored 696 points and sits in the 19th position in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings. The veteran RCR driver has two top-five and five top-10 finishes, has spent 2,658 laps running in the top 15 and made 2,510 green-flag passes thus far this season.
What are your thoughts on Dover International Speedway? “Dover International Speedway is such a cool race track. You just got to attack it. It is so much fun because everyone is attacking the race track. It is so fast and the grip level changes so much throughout the long green-flag runs. There are also multiple grooves which makes it a really fun race track. There is a price to pay when things go bad because the track is so narrow. It is a huge challenge for the teams, drivers and everyone involved. When you go to Dover (International Speedway), you need to be on your A-game.”
You had a top-five run going at Dover International Speedway in June and finished 22nd. What happened? “We definitely had a top-10 finish going at Dover International Speedway in June and our engine expired with about 30 laps to go. It was very frustrating. We were running top-five lap times and catching the cars in front of us too. It happens to everyone. No team goes through the year without engine problems and issues. It makes you mad when it happens, but everyone is working together for that same goal so you can’t be mad at the engine tuners or anything like that. We win together and lose together.”