Originally written on Start 'N' Park Blog  |  Last updated 9/23/14

TALLADEGA, AL - OCTOBER 29: Team owners Joe Gibbs (L) and Richard Childress talk in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AMP Energy Juice 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 29, 2010 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
RCR at “The Desert Jewel” … Team owner Richard Childress has four victories at Phoenix International Raceway, ranking him third on the all-time car owner victories list at the Avondale, Ariz.,-based facility. This includes RCR’s most recent points-paying NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win with driver Kevin Harvick last November; and Harvick’s sweep of both races at PIR in 2006. Prior to that, Dale Earnhardt won the Checker 500 on Nov. 4, 1990. In 83 races at PIR, the Welcome, N.C.-based organization boasts 16 top-five and 35 top-10 finishes. RCR Daytona Rewind … In last Sunday’s Daytona 500, all four RCR drivers fell victim to accidents throughout the 200-lap event with Paul Menard finishing 20th, Jeff Burton 30th, Austin Dillon 31st and Harvick 42nd. Harvick was able to win his third Sprint Unlimited exhibition race and also picked up the victory in the first Budweiser Duel 150-mile qualifying race. Get to the Points … RCR’s three full time Sprint Cup Series drivers rank 20th (Paul Menard), 28th (Jeff Burton) and 38th (Kevin Harvick) in the driver championship point standings heading into this weekend’s race at Phoenix International Raceway. Catch the Action … Live coverage of the 312-mile race from Phoenix International Raceway will be televised live on FOX Sunday, March 3, beginning at 3 p.m. Eastern Time and will also be broadcast on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio. Paul Menard No. 27 Serta/Menards Chevrolet SS Event Preview Fact Sheet This Week’s Serta/Menards Chevrolet … Paul Menard will pilot chassis No. 341 at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) this weekend. This No. 27 Chevrolet SS previously ran last season during the fall race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, bringing home a 12th-place finish. PIR Stats … Menard has 12 starts at the one-mile oval. His best start of seventh came in both 2009 and 2012 and his best finish of ninth came in both 2011 and 2012. The Wisconsin native has completed 3,795 of 3,818 laps attempted (99.4 percent) at the Avondale, Ariz., track. Race Rewind … In his last appearance at PIR, Menard started the No. 27 Chevrolet from the seventh position and brought home a top-10 finish, crossing the stripe in ninth. Road Trip … Menard and several members of the No. 27 crew will be staying out west between the PIR and Las Vegas Motor Speedway races to go on a ski trip in Utah. The Wisconsin native is an avid skier and is excited to hit the slopes with his team. Menard’s Thoughts on Racing at Phoenix International Raceway: “We tested at Phoenix (International Raceway) last fall with the new Gen-6 car and it drove really well. I’m looking forward to going to Phoenix, it’s a fun little short-track that can produce some exciting racing. The car’s aero package doesn’t mean a whole lot at there, so regardless of how the new car runs, it’s going to be a good race. Phoenix is one of my favorite tracks and since the new surface is starting to age, the cars are beginning to get pretty racy again. We ran really well at Phoenix last fall, so hopefully we can get a good finish in the Serta/Menards Chevrolet this weekend.” Kevin Harvick No. 29 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS Event Preview Fact Sheet This Week’s Jimmy John’s Chevrolet at Phoenix International Raceway … Kevin Harvick will pilot chassis No. 383 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in the Phoenix 500. This is the same Chevrolet the Bakersfield, Calif., native drove to Victory Lane at Phoenix International Raceway last November. Freaky Good at Phoenix ... Sunday’s 312-lap event will mark Harvick’s 21st start at the one-mile tri-oval. Since 2001, the RCR veteran driver has collected three victories (both events in 2006 and November 2011), six top-five and 10 top-10 finishes. Harvick holds a 19th-place average starting position, coupled with a 12.8 average finishing position and has led 420 laps. 2012 Race Rewind ... Although Harvick led the most laps in the Sprint Cup Series event at PIR last March and mounted a charge in the closing circuits to take the victory, his No. 29 Chevrolet ran out of fuel coming to the white flag, leaving him to settle for the runner-up finish. You’ve won races on both the old and new Phoenix International Raceway. What do you like about the new configuration that is different since the repave? “They did a great job of taking all aspects of what to do to the race track to try and make it better. First off, they took in the fan’s sight, so they can see the whole race track. Second, they made a unique back straightaway to go through. The racing has been really good. The track has done a great job in preparing the race track, with rubber on the race track and keeping the track clean. Washing it off when it needs to be washed off and doing the things they need to do to prepare the race track to be right.” You’re going back to Phoenix International Raceway after winning last November. Are you heading into this race weekend with more confidence than usual? “I’ve been on both sides. Sometimes you go back after winning a race and you run terrible, other times you go back and run well. This year we have a new car and a lot of new things to deal with, you to have an open mind on how to approach the weekend. Obviously, running the NASCAR Nationwide Series race will help by providing a little extra track time, but Phoenix (International Raceway) was a good track for us last year. We finished first and second in the two races last season, so we’re going back expecting that we’ll run just as well.” Jeff Burton No. 31 Cherrios Chevrolet SS Event Preview Fact Sheet This Week’s No. 31 Cheerios Chevrolet SS … Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 392 this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway. This No. 31 Chevrolet was utilized three times during the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Kentucky Speedway in June and both Dover International Speedway races in June and September. Burton in the Desert … Burton has 27 starts at PIR with two wins (2000 and 2001), seven top-five and 13 top-10 finishes. He has also led 222 laps at the one-mile facility. Race Rewind 2012 ... After running in the top 15 for 254 of the first 291 laps in last year’s Sprint Cup Series race at PIR, Burton’s No. 31 Wheaties Chevrolet suffered engine problems and was forced to retire early relegating the RCR driver to a 33rd-place finish. Have drivers adjusted to the repave changes at Phoenix International Raceway? “I think all drivers have become accustomed to it. It is different now because when you get there and unload, the track has no grip and you have to pace yourself in practice. The track gets better throughout the weekend and it changes all weekend long. A lot of the time, the guys who don’t look so good in practice are the ones who win the race because the track changes so much. Understanding the way it is going to change is going to be most important. It’s hard to know how it is going to change.”
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