Richard Childress has four victories as a team owner at New Hampshire Motor Speedway with Robby Gordon (2001), Kevin Harvick (2006) and Clint Bowyer (2007 and 2010). In 91 starts at the 1.058-mile oval, Childress also has two pole awards, 14 top-five and 33 top-10 finishes with 10 different drivers including Dave Blaney, Jeff Burton, Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Green, Gordon, Harvick, Paul Menard, Steve Park and Mike Skinner.
Paul Menard #27 SYLVANIA/Menards Chevrolet
This Week’s SYLVANIA/Menards Chevrolet at New Hampshire Motor Speedway … Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 349 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend’s SYLVANIA 300. This Chevrolet was raced earlier this season at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (July) where Menard finished 17th and Martinsville Speedway in April where he finished 26th.
By the Numbers at the “The Magic Mile” … In 11 previous starts at the Loudon, N.H.-based track, Menard has finished each of the contested races. He has an average starting position of 22.9, an average finishing position of 26.7 and has completed 98.8 percent of the laps (3,220 of 3,260). He made his best start of eighth in the September 2010 visit to the 1.058-mile flat oval, and posted best finish of 17th in the July 2012 event.
By the Numbers in 2012 … With 27 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 16 top-15 finishes. In his sophomore season with RCR, Menard has an average starting position of 16.4, a 15th-place average finishing position, maintains an Average Running Position of 17.351, and has completed 99.7 percent of his laps (7,509 of 7,531), the fourth-best of all drivers.
Testing, Testing 1, 2, 3 … Menard and the No. 27 team are scheduled to test at Nashville Superspeedway on Sept.19. They will utilize chassis No. 371 from the RCR stable, which was used in competition at Chicagoland Speedway last weekend.
Race Rewind … Menard drove the No. 27 SYLVANIA/Menards Chevrolet to a 20th-place finish in the 2011 SYLVANIA 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after starting from the 14th position and battling handling issues and track position throughout the afternoon.
In the Rearview Mirror: Chicagoland Speedway … Menard and the No. 27 Libman/Menards Chevrolet team battled handling challenges during Sunday’s GEICO 400 en route to a top-15 finish at Chicagoland Speedway.
You’ve steadily improved on your finishes at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Do you think you’re ready to break through with a top-10 finish there? “We had our best race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway when we were there in July of this year, and we still weren’t where we needed to be. At New Hampshire you need to find the right package. You’re hard on the brakes there. The track is flat with tight corners and long straightaways. You need to have the right setup on the car in order to get down the straightaways and through the corners.”
What went right for you during the LENOX Industrial Tools 301 in July? “We were able to find a good package during practice so we weren’t far off for where we needed the car to be for the race. During the race we didn’t have to take any big swings with changes, we could focus on fine-tuning the handling.”
What are you looking for in a package in order to get through the corners well at New Hampshire Motor Speedway? “Usually, we fight how well the car is turning in the center and are looking for more front grip. You need to have good drive off, which we didn’t fight last time. We were mostly just tight in the center of the corners in July and needed to get the car to rotate better.”
Is New Hampshire Motor Speedway like a Martinsville Speedway and how much brake do you use there? “We use a lot of brake at New Hampshire (Motor Speedway). It’s not as much brake heat as it is brake pad wear. The materials used for the brakes keep getting better, so they last longer and longer. It’s definitely one of the hardest places on brakes as far as wearing out the brake pads. There’s usually not much left by the end of the race.”
Kevin Harvick #29 Budweiser Chevrolet
This Week’s Budweiser Chevrolet at New Hampshire Motor Speedway … Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No.400 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend’s SYLVANIA 300. Built new for competition during the 2012 season, this RCR Chevrolet will make its first competitive laps this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Just the Stats … This weekend’s event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway marks Harvick’s 422nd career start in the Sprint Cup Series and 24th at the 1.058-mile track. Since 2001, the 36-year-old driver has collected one win (Fall 2006), one pole award (Fall 2006), five top-five and 12 top-10 finishes at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Harvick maintains a 14th-place average starting position, an average finishing position of 13.8, has completed 99.2 percent (6,721 of 6,775) of laps contested and is credited with 319 laps led.
Getting Loopy in Loudon … Harvick has made 15 Sprint Cup Series starts at the Loudon, N.H.-based facility since the inception of NASCAR’s Loop Data Statistics in 2006. The Bakersfield, Calif., native has led 252 laps ranking him fifth amongst his competitors. Harvick has spent 2,875 Laps in the Top 15 and has a Driver Rating of 92.4 positioning him fourth in both categories. The RCR driver also ranks ninth in Average Running Position (12.907), Fastest Laps Run (147) and Green Flag Speed (124.169 mph).
The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup … Following Sunday’s race at Chicagoland Speedway, the first event of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Harvick sits 10th in the “Chase” standings, 24 points behind leader Brad Keselowski.
The Last Time By … Harvick and the No. 29 Budweiser Designate a Driver Chevrolet team salvaged a 12th-place finish during the 2011 SYLVANIA 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after poor fuel mileage forced the team to pit off sequence from the leaders and put Harvick back in traffic during the final portion of the race.
In the Rearview Mirror: Chicagoland Speedway … Harvick and the No. 29 Budweiser Designate a Driver team scored a 12th-place finish in the GEICO 400 at Chicagoland Speedway Sunday afternoon after battling handling issues throughout the 267-lap event.
What is the key to running well at New Hampshire Motor Speedway? “The hardest thing is just making your car turn in the middle of the corner and being able to have enough forward drive off the corners. It always seems like the New Hampshire race comes down to a track position strategy call on two tires or four tires toward the end of the race. Track position will play a big part, but getting your car to handle right will probably play an equal part.”
What do you like about racing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway? “I always look forward to going to New Hampshire. I like that type of track because it’s flat, similar to the tracks out west where I started my racing career. There’s a lot of braking. You have to really work on getting your car through the center of the corner and still have the forward drive you need up off the corner.”
How has the track’s aging affected racing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway? “I think when they changed the race track it made the racing better. It gave you some more options and I think as the track has aged since they’ve done that, the biggest bumps on the track are going into turn three, so those have gotten a little bit worse. But all in all it hasn’t changed a whole lot.”
Jeff Burton #31 Wheaties Chevrolet
This Weekend’s Wheaties Chevrolet at New Hampshire Motor Speedway … Jeff Burton will race Chassis No. 382 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable this weekend. 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 was 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. Most recently, Burton piloted this machine to a 21st-place finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July and he notched a top-10 finish at RIR two weeks ago, finishing sixth.
Career New Hampshire Stats … This race marks Burton’s 36th start in “The Granite State” and 647th-career Sprint Cup Series entry. He has amassed four wins, eight top-five and 13 top-10 finishes at the 1.058-mile facility.
Getting Loopy at the “The Magic Mile” … Burton has garnered some impressive NASCAR Loop Data statistics at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Of all drivers entering the summer event, he has the seventh-best Average Running Position (12.665) the sixth-most Green Flag Passes (793), spent 2,914 Laps in the Top 15 (seventh-most), and a 92.4 Driver Rating that ranks him ninth amongst his competitors.
Mr. New Hampshire … Burton is no stranger to Victory Lane at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, bringing home the race-winning trophies in four-consecutive seasons (1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000). During his memorable victory in the 2000 event, the South Boston, Va. native paced the field for all 300 circuits, marking the last time a Sprint Cup Series driver led 100 percent of the laps completed.
Race Rewind: Chicagoland Speedway … Burton and the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet team finished 24th in the Sprint Cup Series GEICO 400 at Chicagoland Speedway after losing laps while on pit road under an ill-timed caution flag.
Points Racing … After 27 points-paying events of the 36-race Sprint Cup Series season, Burton has scored 667 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 2,528 laps running in the top 15 and made 2,464 green-flag passes.
What does the No. 31 Wheaties team need to do to be fast at New Hampshire Motor Speedway? “New Hampshire Motor Speedway is a very challenging track. It’s one of those places where if you are off a little bit, it shows a lot on the leaderboard. There is a fine line between being really good and not very good. It’s definitely a tough race track. The car must turn in the middle of the corners at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Rear grip has become less of an issue since we first started racing there. When we first started going there, rear grip was everything. If you could accelerate off the corner before your competitor, you were in good shape. Throughout the years, that has really changed. You must rotate in the middle of the corners. If it doesn’t rotate, your lap times will suffer. To me, rotation in the middle of the corners is the most important key to being strong.”
You are a four-time race winner at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Are you surprised that you haven’t got the finishes you’ve expected there recently? “We’ve run really well in most of the races at New Hampshire (Motor Speedway). Recently, we haven’t performed well there at all though. Two or three years ago, I thought we had the race won. We were leading the race and pitted and no one else did. So we ended up losing it. We just played the wrong strategy. We’ve run well there, just not on a consistent basis lately.”
How do you try to win races on a weekly basis while helping your Richard Childress Racing teammate, Kevin Harvick, win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship? “The best way we can help Kevin (Harvick) win a championship is to run well. If we run well, we can provide valuable feedback and information for his team to use. If we aren’t running well, we aren’t going to be able to help much on Sundays. The help will come Monday through Saturday by providing information to make all RCR teams better.”