In 18 previous Sprint Cup Series races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Richard Childress Racing has posted two poles (Kevin Harvick in 2003 and Jeff Burton in 2006), three wins (Dale Earnhardt in 1995, Harvick in 2003 and Paul Menard in 2011), 11 top-five and 23 top-10 finishes in 47 starts. RCR Chevrolets have also been atop the leaderboard for a total of 264 laps and with the exception of one, each entry has been running at the finish of every event at the Brickyard, dating back to the inaugural race in 1994.
RCR in the NSCS … In 2,222 Sprint Cup Series starts dating back to 1969, RCR has amassed 100 wins, 432 top-five finishes, 898 top-10 finishes and 42 pole awards, with an average starting position of 17.8 and an average finishing position of 15.8 among all races contested. RCR has earned six Sprint Cup Series championships with Dale Earnhardt (1986, ’87, ’90,’91, ’93, ’94), 14 total championships (five NASCAR Nationwide Series titles, two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series titles and one ARCA Racing Series title) and was the first organization to win titles in NASCAR’s three national series.
The Collective RCR … Throughout the season’s first 19 races, RCR’s Sprint Cup Series entries have notched five top-five and 17 top-10 finishes. RCR teams have completed 17,805 out of 18,074 total laps (98.51 percent) with drivers Burton, Austin Dillon, Brendan Gaughan, Harvick, Menard and Elliott Sadler. The group has led a combined 175 laps.
Get to the Points … Following the LENOX Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Harvick remains sixth in the driver championship point standings, 85 markers out of the top spot. Menard now ranks 15th in the standings, while Burton is 19th.
Catch the Action … ESPN’s live coverage of the Brickyard 400 begins Sunday, July 29 at 12 p.m. Eastern Time. The race will also be broadcast on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Qualifying for the 20th points-paying event on the Sprint Cup Series schedule will be broadcast live on ESPN on Saturday, July 28 at 2 p.m. ET.
Paul Menard #27 NIBCO/Menards Chevrolet
This Week’s NIBCO/Menards Chevrolet at Indianapolis Motor Speedway … Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 380 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This No. 27 Chevrolet was built new for the 2012 season and will be utilized in competition for the first time at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Back to the Scene of the First Win … Menard made history in the 2011 Brickyard 400, becoming the first driver to earn his first career Sprint Cup Series win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The victory proved to be emotional for the entire Menard family after having a presence at the historic track for more than 35 years. Despite a number of IndyCar championships as a team owner, it was son Paul who delivered John Menard his first trip to kneel and kiss the famous yard of bricks.
By the Numbers at Indy … In five previous starts at the Speedway, Ind.-based track, Menard has completed 94.5 percent of his laps (756 of 800). He has an average starting position of 26.8 and a 21st-place average finishing position. He claimed his best starting position of 15th and finished first in his last visit to the famed 2.5-mile flat oval (July 2011).
Getting Loopy in 2012 … With 19 points-paying events of the 2012 season complete, Menard sits 15th in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings, 79 points out of the final Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup spot. In his sophomore season with RCR, Menard has an average starting position of 17.8, a 16th-place average finishing position, maintains an average running position of 18.5, and has completed 99.6 percent of his laps (5,468 of 5,488), the fifth-best of all drivers.
Menards is a familiar sight at IMS … Entries fielded by Team Menard, owned by Menards founder and owner, John Menard, were fixtures at the storied Indianapolis Motor Speedway long before NASCAR made its first visit to the Brickyard in 1994. The first Menards open-wheel entry that qualified for the Indianapolis 500 was driven by another Eau Claire, Wis., native, Herm Johnson, in 1982, earning a ninth-place finish. Johnson followed up his rookie performance with a top 10 in 1984. Another notable performance came in 1995 (and was repeated in 1996) when Scott Brayton claimed the pole position for the historic event. Other well-known wheel men who drove for Team Menard at Indy include Nelson Piquet, Al Unser, Eddie Cheever, Arie Luyendyk and Buddy Lazier. With the CART-Indy Racing League split in 1996, Team Menard joined the IRL full time, winning back-to-back championships with Tony Stewart in 1996 and 1997. Greg Ray brought the team their third championship title in 1999. In 2004, Team Menard merged with Panther Racing, with Menard eventually withdrawing from motorsports as team owner. Today, the recognizable neon yellow paint scheme adorns entries in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (No. 27 Chevrolet), Nationwide Series (No. 33 Chevrolet), and Camping World Truck Series (No. 88 Chevrolet Silverado) and the No. 44 entry in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.
Double Duty Weekend … In addition to his driving duties with the No. 27 Sprint Cup Series team, Menard is scheduled to drive the No. 33 Rheem/Menards Chevrolet for RCR in Saturday’s 250-mile Nationwide Series race at IMS. The event will air live on ESPN at 4 p.m. Eastern Time.
Meet Menard … Menard is scheduled to meet with fans and sign autographs alongside NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Matt Crafton and ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards driver Frank Kimmel at the Menards in Avon, Ind. on Thursday, July 26, from 7-8 p.m. ET. The home improvement store is located at 10555 East U.S. Hwy 36. In addition to the Menards show cars, the 2011 Brickyard 400 race-winning trophy will be on display and available to fans for pictures. There will also be opportunities to win general admission tickets to Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series race. Details will be released on Twitter via @RCR27PMenard.
Miss Sprint Cup Chat with Paul … The Eau Claire, Wis., native will participate in a NASCAR.COM Chat with Miss Sprint Cup, Jaclyn Roney, which will be streamed live to the NASCAR.COM homepage on Friday, July 27 at 11:15 a.m. ET. Fans will have the ability to log-in during the chat and ask Menard questions. Menard is also scheduled to participate in a Q&A session with Miss Sprint Cup at the Sprint Fan Experience display on Sunday, July 29 at 9:50 a.m. ET.
Bowties at the Brickyard … Menard will join all Team Chevy drivers on Friday, July 27 for Chevy Day at the Brickyard. Fan-friendly activities that the 2011 Brickyard 400 Champion will be participating in include a Q&A session from 11:45-11:55 a.m. at the Team Chevy Stage and an autograph session from 12:50-1:45 p.m. Menard will also participate in a Q&A session on Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. at the Team Chevy Stage.
Native “Hoosier” Returns Home … Spotter Stevie Reeves grew up blocks from IMS’ turn three in Speedway, Ind. Reeves grew up racing the bullrings (short tracks) of Indiana, then traveled nationally with the United States Automobile Club, winning back-to-back USAC National Midget titles in 1992 and 1993. His career behind the wheel included competition in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, the Indy Racing League and the USAC Silver Crown Series. Reeves got his start as a spotter when Ernie Irvan needed help during a 1999 race, and has been doing it ever since.
Testing, Testing 1, 2, 3 … Menard and the No. 27 team will travel from Indianapolis to the Irish Hills of Michigan following Sunday’s race to participate in a Goodyear tire test session at Michigan International Speedway on Monday, July 30. They will utilize chassis No. 328 from the RCR stable, which was used in competition at Kentucky Speedway in June.
In the Rearview Mirror: New Hampshire Motor Speedway … Menard started the No. 27 Duracell/Menards Chevrolet from the 13th position and battled handling issues throughout the LENOX Industrial Tools 301 before finishing17th.
PAUL MENARD QUOTES: One of the coolest stories last year was you winning the Brickyard 400. Any race you got back to as the defending winner is a cool thing, but given the history there with your family, how much are you looking forward to going back to Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
“Obviously, you’re going to have a little more bounce to your step. Not just me, but the entire No. 27 NIBCO/Menards team will. You get to see the billboards hanging up. I’ve heard there’s a big picture on the Pagoda. Stuff like that is going to be neat, but I have gone through that tunnel between turns one and two for years and I always get goose bumps. That’s never going to change.”
What are your lasting memories of last year’s win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
“There are a lot of pictures and memorabilia that remind me of that day, because at the time it was very surreal. Seeing everyone’s faces in Victory Lane, riding around the track in the convertible with Richard (Childress, team owner) and my dad (John Menard) and kissing the bricks with everyone from RCR. There are a lot of great memories.”
You’re not an emotional guy, but how emotional did you find yourself after winning such a big race?
“I was as happy as anyone can be when you win the race that you wanted to win the most. It makes you want to go do it again.”
When did it hit you?
“There was so much going on from the time I got out of the car to the time we got on the plane. I think it started to sink in when I finally got home.”
How satisfying was it to win the Brickyard 400, not only for yourself, but for your dad and your entire family?
“My dad has been trying to win at Indianapolis (Motor Speedway) for longer than I’ve been alive. I spent a lot of years there as a kid with my brother, sister, my uncle and my cousins. A lot of them were there that day, too. This was a win that the entire family had wanted for a long time, and now we have it.”
What was going through your mind in the final laps of the 2011 Brickyard 400?
“It was a busy final 20 laps. Slugger (Labbe, crew chief) was keeping me abreast of where the No. 24 car was because he (Jeff Gordon) was coming fast. I was basically trying to not run out of fuel and do everything I could to maintain speed, using as little fuel as necessary. The last couple of laps it was all or nothing. If we were going to run out, we were going to run out trying to get the win. We made it to the end, made another lap around the track and did a couple of burnouts.”
You didn’t really have time to think about how big of a win it was going to be, did you?
“No, you’d probably crash if you did something like that.”
What did you think of the end of Indianapolis 500 this year? Do you think we’ll see something like that in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday?
“I thought it was a great finish. I think they set a record for lead changes and it seemed like the drivers really liked it, too. If the drivers like a new car, that’s pretty important, and they seemed to be pretty excited about it. I don’t think the Sprint Cup Series race will be three wide coming to the finish like it was in that race, but who knows? Anything can happen.”
Kevin Harvick #29 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet
This Week’s Jimmy Johnn’s Chevrolet at Indianapolis Motor Speedway … Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No. 371 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend’s Brickyard 400. This former No. 33 racer was transformed to a No. 29 entry during the off-season and will run its first competitive laps this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Freaky Fast! Freaky Good! … Jimmy John’s joins Harvick and the No. 29 team for their fourth of six races during the 2012 Sprint Cup Series season. The 36-year-old driver made his first NASCAR appearance at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2001. The Richard Childress Racing veteran driver has completed a total of 1,749 laps of the 1,761 of the total laps contested at the 2.5-mile track. Harvick has collected one win (2003), four top-five and seven top-10 finishes, one pole award (2003) and has led 92 laps at this historic track. Harvick is the only Sprint Cup Series driver to win the Brickyard 400 from the pole position.
Going for a Loop at the Brickyard … Harvick has made seven starts at the Indianapolis-based facility since the inception of NASCAR’s Loop Data Statistics in 2006. The Bakersfield, Calif., native has run 781 laps within in the Top 15 while completing 176 Quality Passes ranking him seventh in both categories. Harvick holds a 93.5 Driver Rating and an average Speed in Traffic of 167.200 mph positioning him ninth amongst his fellow competitors. The 2003 Brickyard 400 Champion has also been credited for leading 41 laps, which positions him 10th in the category of Most Laps Led.
Points Racing … With 19 points-paying events in the books, Harvick remains sixth in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings, 85 markers behind the leader. Harvick has collected three top-five and nine top-10 finishes thus far this season, completing 99.76 percent (5,475 of 5,488) of the laps contested.
A Little R & R … What does a professional athlete do with an off weekend? Go to the beach? Head out west on a hunting trip? During the series second and final off weekend of the 2012 season, Harvick passed on the opportunity for a weekend getaway and volunteered for diaper duty. The first time dad spent the week at his North Carolina home getting in some quality time with his newborn son, Keelan Paul, and wife DeLana.
See the Man … Harvick will join Team Chevy drivers on Friday, July 27 for Chevy Day at the Brickyard. The 2003 Brickyard 400 Champion will join drivers Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne and Danica Patrick in an autograph session beginning at 11 a.m. ET, followed by a Q&A session at 12:50 p.m. ET at the Chevy Stage located on the infield of IMS. Harvick will revisit the Chevy stage Sunday, July 29 at 10 a.m. ET for an additional Q&A Session.
Tire Testing … Following the Brickyard 400 the No. 29 team will make their way to Michigan International Speedway to take part in the Goodyear tire test session on Monday, July 30. The team will utilize chassis No. 381 from the RCR stable, which was driven at Kentucky Speedway by Harvick in June.
The Last Time Around … Last season, Harvick and the No. 29 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet team took home an 11th-place finish during the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after starting the race from the 19th position, fighting a tight-handling car and gambling on pit strategy late in the race.
In the Rearview Mirror: New Hampshire Motor Speedway … Harvick and the No. 29 Rheem team finished eighth after battling handling issues throughout the LENOX Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
KEVIN HARVICK QUOTES: You have won at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and hold an average a 10th-place finishing position, why do you think this track fits you so well?
“I don’t know, but it’s a good track to have fit you though. It’s been a very good race track for us over the years, for whatever reason it seems like we always run well there. Hopefully we can do the same thing this year because it’s fun a fun race to win. To experience that back in 2003 was pretty cool, and hopefully we can experience that again this year.”
After winning the Brickyard 400, do you feel you rank up there with the Indianapolis 500 winners?
“I think those are two different worlds. It’s a very small group of guys that have actually had the chance to win the race and get their name on the Brickyard 400 trophy. For me growing up, that’s what I wanted to do, I wanted to race Indy Cars and be at the Indianapolis 500. So to win at Indianapolis (Motor Speedway) during the NASCAR race is kind of a childhood dream come true.”
Talk about the pride and personal satisfaction that comes with winning marquee events like the Brickyard 400 and Daytona 500.
“We have been fortunate to win a few of the bigger, crown jewel races of our sport. To be able to do that and enjoy those particular days and put your name on those trophies is something that you want to do in your career.”
Jeff Burton #31 Rain-X Chevrolet
This Weekend’s Rain-X Chevrolet at Indianapolis Motor Speedway … Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 359 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Burton drove this No. 31 Chevrolet to a top-10 finish (sixth) earlier this season at Bristol Motor Speedway after starting 33rd. The chassis was utilized three times last season including the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (started-fifth, finished-21st), Pocono Raceway (started-eighth, finished 17th) and Dover International Speedway (started-13th, finished 11th).
Career Indianapolis Stats … Burton has started every Sprint Cup Series event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (18) and this weekend’s Brickyard 400 will mark his 639th-career Sprint Cup Series entry. He has amassed one top-five and five top-10 finishes at the 2.5-mile facility, starting from the pole position in the 2006 event.
Getting Loopy at the “The Brickyard” … Burton has garnered some impressive NASCAR Loop Data statistics at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Of all drivers entering the annual event, he has the eighth-best Average Running Position (16.9), 313 Green Flag Passes, spent 695 Laps in the Top 15 (10th-most) and a 90.9 Driver Rating that ranks him 11th amongst his competitors.
Race for Riley … Burton and NASCAR/IndyCar driver John Andretti are scheduled to sign autographs and take part in a Supermarket Sweep-type competition at the Kroger grocery store located at 8150 Rockville Road in Indianapolis on Thursday, July 26 from 5-7 p.m. The drivers will guide shopping carts for two winners (selected via a random on-site drawing) in a shopping spree collecting General Mills products which the winners will be able to take home. Kroger will donate the value of the groceries collected to the Riley Hospital while General Mills will match the dollar amount and make a donation as part of the Kroger Race for Riley presented by Cheerios. Wristbands will be handed out at 4 p.m. local time to the first 300 fans.
Team Chevy … Burton will join all Team Chevy drivers on Friday, July 27 for Chevy Day at the Brickyard in an autograph session beginning at 11 a.m. ET, followed by a Q&A session at 12:50 p.m. ET at the Team Chevy Stage located on the infield of IMS. Burton is also scheduled to participate in a Q&A session with fellow Sprint Cup Series driver Juan Pablo Montoya at the Team Chevy stage on Sunday, July 29 at 9:45 a.m. ET.
Like Father, Like Son … Burton and his 11-year-old son Harrison will both be racing during the Brickyard 400 weekend in Indianapolis. While the elder Burton is over at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Harrison will compete with his USAC quarter midget in the Battle for the Brickyard at “Little Indy” about 20 minutes from IMS on July 24 – 28. With five race weekends left in the season, Harrison is atop the point standings in the three different divisions he competes in the 2012 USAC Generation Next Series (Lite 160, Senior Animal and Lite World Formula). So far this season, Harrison has 10 victories, nine second-place results and six third-place finishes across the three divisions.
Race Rewind … An early pit road incident, untimely cautions and long green-flag runs relegated Jeff Burton and the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet team to a 21st-place finish in the LENOX Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Points Racing … After 19 points-paying events of the 36-race Sprint Cup Series season, Burton has scored 493 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 four top-10 finishes and has spent 1,853 laps running in the top 15, made 1,993 green-flag passes and led 35 laps.
JEFF BURTON QUOTES: In the last five years at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, you have good finishes, but also a couple rough days.
“Most of it is circumstantial. I enjoy going to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The cool thing about that track is that if you built it today, you would be ridiculed. People would say you are the dumbest person in the world (laughter). It’s not conducive to racing we do today and what everyone wants to see, but it is so cool to go there and the history of the place makes it special. The special part is we (NASCAR) didn’t make the history. At Daytona International Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway and Darlington Raceway, we made the history. We are racing someone else’s history. To me, that is cool. It is neat to go and experience a different atmosphere. It is just a really neat weekend.”
Last season, you had engine issues at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after putting together a solid run.
“Richard Childress Racing and ECR Engines pride themselves on power and reliability. We’ve had a few reliability issues lately, which we are unaccustomed to having. The guys work so hard and put a lot of effort into it. It breaks their heart when something goes wrong. It’s frustrating for me as a driver, but it’s even more frustrating for them as engine builders because they put their heart and soul into it. The most frustrating part about last season’s Brickyard 400 is that we were running really well and played the same strategy that Paul Menard was running and he ended up winning the race. We thought we positioned ourselves well and it just didn’t work out for us.”
Next year will be the 20th anniversary of NASCAR racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“That is hard to imagine. I can remember the first time we tested there. I wasn’t a part of that specific test, but I remember it. I remember all of the media around it and running the first race there. I can remember seeing highlights of all the cars coming down that front straightaway. It’s really cool to go there without a doubt.”
What did you think of the Indianapolis 500 this year? Can we ever see a finish like that in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series?
“One thing about Indianapolis Motor Speedway is that the most bizarre things happen in both IndyCar and NASCAR races. You never know what it going to happen. It is a long track where people can pit and not go a lap down. It opens the window for strange things to happen. The Indianapolis 500 this year was the best one I’ve ever seen from start to finish. I don’t think they could’ve asked for anything better than that. It was a great race. We’ve got our work cut out for us to put on a great race, too.”