Homestead-Miami Speedway is one of the few race tracks where team owner Richard Childress has yet to earn a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory. Richard Childress Racing entries have finished second on three occasions: 2003 (Kevin Harvick), 2008 (Harvick) and 2009 (Jeff Burton). In 40 starts, RCR has earned seven top-five and 19 top-10 finishes at the 1.5-mile, progressively-banked oval with drivers Dave Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Burton, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Green, Harvick and Mike Skinner. Kansas Speedway, Kentucky Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway are the other tracks on the current Sprint Cup Series schedule where RCR is still on the hunt for hardware.
Get to the Points … Following the AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, Harvick, who represents RCR in the 2012 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, is ranked eighth, 86 points out of the top spot. Menard currently sits 16th in the driver championship point standings, while Burton is ranked 19th.
Catch the Action … ESPN’s live coverage of the season-finale 400-mile event from Homestead-Miami Speedway begins Sunday, Nov. 18 at 2 p.m. Eastern Time. The race will also be broadcast on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Qualifying for the 36th and final points-paying event of the 2012 Sprint Cup Series season will be broadcast live on SPEED Friday, Nov. 16 at 6 p.m. ET.
Paul Menard #27 Duracell/Menards Chevrolet
This Week’s Duracell/Menards Chevrolet at Homestead-Miami Speedway … Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 379 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend’s Homestead 400. This Chevrolet was last raced at Dover International Speedway in September where the Eau Clair, Wis., native finished 22nd. It was also utilized earlier this season at Pocono Raceway in August, where he started third and finished 11th, Charlotte Motor Speedway (May) 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.
Homestead Tidbits … In his six previous starts at the 1.5-mile oval race track, Menard has completed 99.6 percent of his laps (1,597 of 1,603) and has led for one circuit. He has an average starting position of 29.7 and an average finishing position of 23.8, with his best result of 16th coming in the 2011 season finale. Menard earned his best start at the Homestead, Fla.-based facility in November 2010 when took the green flag in the 16th position.
By the Numbers in 2012 … With 35 points-paying events of the 2012 season complete, Menard sits 16th in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings on the merit of one top-five and nine top-10 finishes. In his sophomore season with RCR, Menard has an average starting position of 16.1, an average finishing position of 15.6, maintains an Average Running Position of 17.397 and has completed 99.6 percent of his laps (10,139 of 10,175), leading all drivers in total laps completed.
Race Rewind to 2011 … Menard recorded his best finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway taking the checkered flag in the 16th position in the 2011 Sprint Cup Series finale after starting from the 19th spot and enduring a series of rain showers and a persistent tight-handling condition.
In the Rearview Mirror: Phoenix International Raceway … Menard started the 35th points-paying Sprint Cup Series event of the 2012 season from the seventh position and drove the No. 27 Rheem/Menards Chevrolet to a ninth-place finish in the AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway despite being collected in a multi-car accident as the neon yellow machine took the checkered flag.
As we head to Miami-Homestead Speedway for the last race of the 2012 season, has the year gone fast or slow for you? “Every year I get older and the years go by quicker. That’s just the way it is, so I’m told. This year went by faster than last year, and I’m sure next year will go by even quicker.”
Are you happy that this season is coming to an end? “It’s always bittersweet when the season ends. I feel like we have a lot left to accomplish, but it will be nice to have a restart for next year, too.”
Last year you earned your best finish to date at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Are you more comfortable there now? “Every week is different in this sport. We could run really well or really bad, it just depends on the week. We just need to do all the preparation and hope for a good run.”
Talk about the challenges and the progressive banking at Homestead-Miami Speedway. “Homestead (-Miami Speedway) is a wide track and has a lot of different grooves that you can run, which is neat for a driver. Other than that, it’s kind of a boring race track to be honest.”
Going into last year’s finale, everyone was aware of the battle between Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart. Did that affect the way you raced because of those two running for the championship? “No, not at all. You don’t do anything different than you do at Phoenix (International Raceway) in the second race of the season. Everyone just tries to get all they can. If they do you wrong, you do them wrong. If they don’t, then you don’t. Racing those guys in the Chase (for the NASCAR Sprint Cup) doesn’t change anything. Ultimately, you want to end the year on a high note to carry into the off season.”
Kevin Harvick #29 Budweiser Chevrolet
This Week’s Budweiser Chevrolet at Homestead-Miami Speedway … Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No.378 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in the Homestead 400. The No. 29 team utilized this car twice during the 2011 season at Chicagoland Speedway in September (started-30th, finished-second) and Kansas Speedway in October (started-14th, finished-sixth). Harvick drove this Chevrolet in 2012 to a sixth-place finish at Kansas Speedway in April, a 10th-place result at Michigan International Speedway in June, fifth-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway in September and most recently he finished 11th at Kansas Speedway in October.
Stating the Stats … Harvick will make his 430th career Sprint Cup Series start and 12th appearance at the 1.5-mile track. The 36-year-old driver has picked up five top-five and nine-top10 finishes during his previous 11 starts. Harvick has completed 99.9 percent (2,941 of 2,942) laps contested, is credited with 128 laps led and has earned 13.9 average starting position along with a 7.9 average finishing position.
Getting Loopy in the “Sunshine State” … Since the inception of NASCAR’s Loop Data Statistics in 2006, Harvick has made seven starts at the Homestead, Fla.-based facility. The Bakersfield, Calif., native is the second-Fastest Driver Early In a Run, has spent 1,499 Laps in the Top 15 ranking him second among all competitors and has improved an average of 4.9 positions during the final 10 percent of laps contested, positioning him second in the Closers category. Harvick holds the fourth-fasted Green Flag Speed and maintains the fourth-best Average Running Position (9.727), Driver Rating (102.5). The RCR driver is also the fifth-Fastest on Restarts and also ranks fifth in the category Speed in Traffic.
The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup … Following Harvick’s win in the ninth Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup event, Harvick jumped three positions in the standings, to eighth, 86 markers behind the leader.
2011 Race Rewind … Harvick and the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet team closed out the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway with an eighth-place finish after starting from the 21st position.
In the Rearview Mirror: Phoenix International Raceway … Harvick and the No. 29 Budweiser team captured their first victory of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season after starting from the 19th position and battling a tight-handling condition during the early laps of the AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
What’s your approach going into Sunday’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway? “I think for us it’s all about going down there and trying to get the best finish we can. Ideally, we’d love to repeat last weekend and close out the season with back-to-back wins, but overall we want to run the best we can to end the season strong and finish as high as possible in the point standings.”
You’ve had a lot of strong runs at Homestead-Miami Speedway. What do you attribute that to? “Homestead (Miami Speedway) has been a good track for us. We were good on the flat surface, but have run well with the new configuration, too. Homestead has been one of those tracks we’ve been fortunate to go to where everything kind of fits the styles of the way our cars are built to run and my driving style. It’s definitely been a good race track for us and we’re looking forward to going down there and closing out the season strong this week.”
How does Homestead-Miami Speedway fit your driving style? “Homestead (Miami Speedway) is just unique. You can charge turn one a little bit more than you can at most places, because as you get through the corner, the banking seems to get steeper all the way through, and you have options. You can run the top, you can run the bottom, you can run the middle, or you can split the middle-top or middle-bottom and make your car turn. It’s just a unique race track, and it seems to fit the guys that like to move around and make their cars work in different spots.”
Why is Homestead-Miami Speedway one of your favorite tracks? “Homestead (Miami Speedway) is one of those race tracks that you don’t know when it is going to stop aging. It seems like every time we return to the track it loses a little grip, which is a good thing. Since they repaved the track a few years back it has become one of my favorites. You can move all around trying to find a groove that works for you. There are a lot of different places where you can make your car work. For me it has been a lot of fun to race on.”
Jeff Burton #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet
This Week’s No. 31 Chevrolet at Homestead-Miami Speedway … Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 359 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable at Homestead-Miami Speedway. This No. 31 Chevrolet has been utilized three times during the 2012 NSCS season at Bristol Motor Speedway in March where Burton piloted the RCR machine to a top-10 finish (sixth-place), at Indianapolis Motor Speedway where a broken brake rotor late in the race relegating the team to a 32nd-place finish and Charlotte Motor Speedway in October where Burton finished 28th after getting caught up in an early accident.
Career Miami Stats … Sunday’s event marks Burton’s 14th start at the 1.5-mile oval and 655th-career Sprint Cup Series entry. He has amassed four top-five and six top-10 finishes and led 29 laps at the Homestead, Fla.-based race track.
Getting Loopy in the Sunshine State … Burton has garnered some impressive NASCAR Loop Data statistics at Homestead-Miami Speedway. His 476 Green Flag Passes rank him 11th amongst his competitors with 222 coming while running in the top 15 under green-flag conditions (Quality Passes). He also has spent 931 Laps in the Top 15 and has the 12th-best Driver Rating at 86.5
Rewind to Last Year … Burton and the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet team continued their late-season run of strong finishes with a 10th-place showing in 2011 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Rewind to Last Week … Burton and the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet team finished 13th at Phoenix International Raceway after driving from the rear of the field in the AdvoCare 500.
Points Racing … After the 35th points-paying event of the 36-race Sprint Cup Series season, Burton has scored 858 points and sits in the 19th position in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.
After a tough season, are you ready for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season to be over? “Honestly, I am. However, I am also excited about the preparations we are making for the 2013 season. This type of year grinds you down. Having a positive attitude goes a long way, but at the same time you need to be a realist and understand what is going on. I am ready for this year to end so we can focus our efforts on 2013. I love racing, but it is time to stop so we can restart for 2013.”
What’s the one thing you are most excited about at RCR for 2013? “I feel really good about what we’ve done structurally for 2013 compared to 2012. We have a better plan and the people in correct roles who can execute that plan. I’m very encouraged about everything we have going on at RCR.”