Richard Childress has eight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories as a car owner at Richmond International Raceway – five with Dale Earnhardt, two with Kevin Harvick and one with Clint Bowyer. Additionally, in 132 starts at the Richmond, Va.-based, RCR drivers have claimed 33 top-five and 60 top-10 finishes at RIR. Childress, a former driver on NASCAR’s senior circuit, contributed three of those top-10 finishes from 1976-1978. The Welcome, N.C.-based organization holds a 17.2 average starting position, a 14.9 average finishing position, has completed 49,690 of the 52,704 contested laps (94.3 percent) and has collectively led 3,229 laps around the 0.75-mile race track.
Catch the Action … ABC’s live coverage of the Federated Auto Parts 400 begins Saturday, Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. Eastern Time. The race will also be broadcast on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Qualifying for the 26th points-paying event on the Sprint Cup Series will be broadcast live on ESPN2 on Friday, Sept. 7 at 5:30 p.m. ET.
Paul Menard #27 Moen/Menards Chevrolet
This Week’s Moen/Menards Chevrolet at Richmond International Raceway … Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 380 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in the Federated Auto Parts 400. This No. 27 Chevrolet was utilized at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July where Menard earned a 14th-place finish after starting from the eighth position.
Menard at Richmond … In 11 starts at RIR, Menard has been running at the conclusion of each contested race and has completed 97.3 percent of his laps (4,291 of 4,410). He has an average starting position of 27.6 and an average finishing position of 27.5 with his best finish of 13th coming in this year’s April event. Menard posted his best start at the 0.75-mile tri-oval in his September 2010 visit to the Richmond, Va.-based facility when he took the green flag in the seventh position. He has recorded three top-five and five top-10 finishes and led for 160 laps at RIR in NASCAR Nationwide Series competition.
By the Numbers in 2012 … With 25 points-paying events of the 2012 season complete, Menard sits 15th in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings, 59 points out of the final Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup spot on the merit of seven top-10 and 15 top-15 finishes. In his sophomore season with RCR, Menard has an average starting position of 16.2, an average finishing position of 14.3, maintains an Average Running Position of 17.129, and has completed 99.7 percent of his laps (6,844 of 6,864), the fourth-best of all drivers.
Wild Card Contender … On the heels of three consecutive top-10 finishes, Menard and the No. 27 Moen/Menards Chevrolet team remain in contention for a Wild Card spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup as they travel to Richmond this weekend. Menard is scheduled to participate in the Wild Card Contenders Media Availability at RIR on Thursday, Sept. 6 from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time.
Race Rewind … After starting from the 15th position, the Moen/Menards team had their 2011 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup hopes dashed when contact with a competitor forced the No. 27 Chevrolet into the outside wall. Menard and the No. 27 RCR team repaired the heavily damaged car and returned to finish 34th in the Wonderful Pistachios 400 at Richmond International Raceway.
In the Rearview Mirror: Atlanta Motor Speedway … Menard and the Quaker State/Menards Chevrolet team started from the 18th position and overcame handling issues early in Sunday’s AdvoCare 500 to finish eighth under the lights at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Richmond International Raceway is very different from the other two short tracks at which the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competes. How would you describe the difference to the race fans? “Richmond (International Raceway) is a three-quarter mile short track, but it races like a track much bigger than that. You carry a lot of speed into turn one, you get hard on the brakes and then the groove opens up as you exit turn two and you can run where your car wants to run. You don’t have to stick to the bottom of the race track; you can run the middle and three-quarters of the way up the track.”
You finished 13th at Richmond International Raceway in April of this season, which is your best NASCAR Sprint Cup Series finish there. Is there something that you and the No. 27 team have finally figured out? “It’s like every weekend. You unload the car on Friday morning and you have a sense of what direction your weekend is going to go. Last time when we were at Richmond (International Raceway), we had the throttle stick during practice and we wrecked our primary car. Fortunately, we had a really good backup car prepared. Who knows what could have happened if we had been able to get another practice session in with that car to tune it in a little more. We ran a solid race and left with a top-15 finish.”
What does it feel like to have a throttle stick in a Sprint Cup Series car? “You just do what you can to get the car slowed down and stopped with minimal damage if possible.”
What have you done to learn and get better at Richmond International Raceway? “As a team, we keep working to find a package that works at Richmond (International Raceway). What works at Richmond, doesn’t work at Bristol (Motor Speedway) or at Loudon (New Hampshire Motor Speedway). It’s our job to figure out that unique package. I’ve run well there in a NASCAR Nationwide Series car, but the Sprint Cup Series car is a different animal. So, I continue to figure out what the (NSCS) car needs so that we can run up front.”
Kevin Harvick #29 Budweiser Chevrolet
This Week’s Budweiser Chevrolet at Richmond International Raceway … Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No. 320 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend’s Federated Auto Parts 400. This former No. 33 racer was transformed into a No. 29 entry during the off-season and has been was utilized at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in June (started 12th, finished eighth) and Martinsville Speedway in April (started second, finished 19th).
Just the Stats … This weekend’s event at Richmond International Raceway marks Harvick’s 420th Sprint Cup Series career start. During the last 11 seasons, the 36-year-old driver has made 23 starts at the 0.75-mile tri-oval and has collected two wins (fall 2006 and fall 2011), six top-five and 14 top-10 finishes. Harvick maintains a 16.7 average starting position, an average finishing position of 11.8, has completed 98.7 percent (9,086 of 9,302) of laps contested and is credited with 942 laps led.
Going for a Loop in Richmond … Harvick has made 15 Sprint Cup Series starts at the Richmond, Va.-based facility since the inception of NASCAR’s Loop Data Statistics in 2006. The Bakersfield, Calif., native has spent 5,525 Laps in the Top 15 and has made 488 Quality Passes, which ranks him first in each category. Harvick ranks second in Laps Led (895) and Fastest Drivers Early In a Run (119.474 mph). The RCR veteran driver has earned a Driver Rating of 111.6 ranking him third amongst his fellow competitors. Harvick also ranks third in Average Running Position (7.404), Fastest Laps Run (421), Fastest on Restarts (117.458 mph) and Green Flag Speed (116.590 mph).
In The Chase … With 25 point-paying events in the books, Harvick clinched a position in the 2012 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and ranks ninth in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings. Throughout the 2012 season, Harvick has collected four top-five and 10 top-10 finishes, completing 99.75 percent (6,691 of 6,674) of the laps contested.
Double Duty … In addition to competing in the Federated Auto Parts 400 Saturday evening, Harvick will also drive RCR’s No. 33 Armour Vienna Sausages Chevrolet in the NASCAR Nationwide Series event Friday night. The race is scheduled to air live on ESPN beginning at 7 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
The Last Time By: Defending Race Winner … After starting the 2011 Wonderful Pistachios 400 from the seventh position, Harvick edged out Carl Edwards by 0.139-seconds to take the checkered flag and the No. 29 team to Victory Lane at Richmond International Raceway, claiming his fourth win of the 2011 season.
In the Rearview Mirror: Atlanta Motor Speedway … Harvick and the No. 29 Rheem team captured a fifth-place finish, and clinched a spot in the 2012 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, after leading 101 laps while battling a tight-handling condition in the AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday night.
You head into the race at Richmond International Raceway already locked into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship. How does that change your outlook on the race this weekend? “It definitely takes the pressure off of us as a team. Knowing that we are already locked into the Chase (for the NASCAR Sprint Cup), we’ll be able to race harder, take a few chances and direct our focus on getting that first win of the season.”
You are the defending race winner, and both of your wins at Richmond International Raceway have come during the fall event. Does that make you feel more confident about your chances of getting your first win of the season this weekend? “Richmond (International Raceway) is a good track for me in general. Since I started racing, it seems I’ve been successful on the flatter-type race tracks; they really seem to fit my driving style. On paper, this is one of our best tracks. Over the past two weeks our team has really been stepping up our game and avoiding big mistakes. As long as we stay focused, avoid mistakes and make the right calls, we should have a shot to get the Budweiser Chevrolet back to Victory Lane.”
Do you approach Richmond International Speedway as more of a short track or a speedway? “It really is a little of both, but I look at it with a short-track mindset. There is more contact at Richmond (International Speedway) than you have at a bigger track. I think sometimes drivers use the short track as an excuse to beat and bang, but as tight as the racing is there, it’s hard to not have incidental contact.”
Jeff Burton #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet
This Week’s Caterpillar Chevrolet at Richmond International Raceway … Jeff Burton will race Chassis No. 382 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend’s Federated Auto Parts 400. This No. 31 Chevrolet was utilized in February at Phoenix International Raceway where engine issues thwarted Burton’s top-five run and relegated him to a 33rd-place finish. This car also raced at Richmond International Raceway in May where an on-track incident knocked Burton and the No. 31 team out of contention, forcing them to settle for a 31st-place finish. Burton most recently piloted this machine to a 21st-place finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July.
Career Richmond Stats … Burton grew up two hours away from the Richmond, Va.-based facility in South Boston, Va. The Federated Auto Parts 400 marks Burton’s 37th start at the 0.75-mile facility and 645th-career Sprint Cup Series entry. He has amassed one win, nine top-five and 15 top-10 finishes along with one pole award at the historic track.
Getting Loopy in the “Old Dominion State” … Burton has garnered impressive NASCAR Loop Data statistics at Richmond International Raceway since the inception of NASCAR Loop Data Statistics in 2006. Of all drivers entering the 400-mile event, he has the eighth-most Green Flag Passes (734), the 13th-most Quality Passes (342), the 11th-best Average Running Position (15.61) and has spent 3,570 Laps in the Top 15, ranking him 10th amongst his competitors.
No Stranger to Victory Lane … Burton has made three trips to Victory Lane at Richmond International Raceway, winning in the Sprint Cup Series in September 1998 and in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in June 1998 and September 2000.
Race Rewind: Atlanta Motor Speedway … Burton and the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet team battled to a 12th-place finish in the AdvoCare 500 under the lights at Atlanta Motor Speedway after starting from the 26th position
Points Racing … Burton sits 20th in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings. After 25 points-paying events of the 36-race Sprint Cup Series season, Burton has two top-five and four top-10 finishes. The veteran RCR driver has spent 2,197 laps running in the top 15 and has made 2,359 green-flag passes.
Some drivers call Richmond International Raceway the “perfect track.” Do you agree? “I think it is an awesome track. I don’t know how you can build a better track. You can run any kind of car series on that track. It is the perfect size. Some of the tracks we visit are too big. This track is the perfect mix of size and banking. It is a very difficult race track to beat.”
Talk about your last few trips to Richmond International Raceway. “Our finishes at Richmond (International Raceway) the last few races haven’t represented how strong our cars were there. There have been a few races were we have had fast race cars and silly things happen. The track is different every time we go there. We’ve seen some teams get hot at Richmond and consistently run good, but eventually they find themselves behind again. For whatever reason, the track is always changing.”
Why has Richmond International Raceway become a one-groove race track recently? “The thing about Richmond (International Raceway) is that is has narrowed. We used to go there and have multi-groove racing, but not in the last few years. It was better multi-grooved in my opinion. You need that second groove. We just haven’t had it for whatever reason. I’ve asked NASCAR and track officials to go back to the Sawyer family to ask what they used to seal the track because they had a way of creating that second groove. The quality of racing was better with a second groove.”