Richard Childress Racing teammates finished 12th (Paul Menard), 22nd (Jeff Burton) and 32nd (Kevin Harvick). Jimmie Johnson captured his fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win of the 2012 season and was followed to the finish line by Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer. The next scheduled Sprint Cup Series race is the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, Nov. 4. The race is scheduled to be televised live on ESPN beginning at 2 p.m. Eastern Time and broadcast live on the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Paul Menard Earns Career-Best Finish of 12th at Martinsville Speedway
Paul Menard started the No. 27 Zecol/Menards Chevrolet from the ninth position in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race and persevered through handling challenges to earn a 12th-place finish, his career-best at Martinsville Speedway. The Richard Childress Racing driver reported a tight-handling condition early in the 500-lap event, but still competed in the top 15 for the first 90 laps. The handling issues continued despite aggressive chassis and air pressure adjustments during routine service while under caution on laps 47, 97,129, 151 and 200. Menard fell to 25th in the running order as he wrestled the neon yellow machine around the half-mile race track. Additional adjustments during pit stops under green and yellow-flag conditions provided little relief, but the Eau Claire, Wis., native still fought his way into the top 20. Crew chief Slugger Labbe instructed his driver to remain on track during the lap-431 caution-flag period in order to take the “wave around” pass and return to the lead lap in the 19th position. In the final 10 laps, Menard used strong restarts to work his way into the top 15 and bring home a 12th-place result in the TUMS Fast Relief 500.
Start – 9 Finish – 12 Laps Led – 0 Points – 16th
PAUL MENARD QUOTE: “I’m very proud of this Zecol/Menards team. No one gave up today and somehow we were able to salvage a decent finish. We just missed the setup for today and no matter what adjustments we made, I couldn’t get the car to turn”
Blown Engine Relegates Kevin Harvick and the Rheem Chasing the Cure team to a 32nd-Place Finish at Martinsville Speedway
Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Rheem Chasing the Cure team was relegated to 32nd-place finish in the TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway after the engine expired with 27 laps remaining in the 500-lap event. The Bakersfield, Calif., native started the 263-mile affair from the 12th position and maintained a spot in the top 20 while battling a tight-handling black and pink Chevrolet. Crew chief Gil Martin called Harvick to pit road on laps 47, 99, 129 and 200 for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustments to alleviate the handling issues that the Richard Childress Racing driver was battling. Back on the race track, Harvick worked his way toward the front of the field moving into the top 10 on lap 206. The 36-year-old driver remained a fixture in the top 10 until the final 100 laps of the event, when he informed the crew that the engine wasn’t performing properly. Harvick forged on holding onto a position in the top 25 until lap 473 when the engine finally expired leaving the Rheem Chasing the Cure team to settle for a 32nd-place result. Harvick fell one position, to 11th, in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, 88 points out of the lead.
Start – 12 Finish – 32 Laps Led – 0 Points – 11th
KEVIN HARVICK QUOTE: “This definitely wasn’t the way I wanted to finish the day, but there are some things that are outside of your control. The Rheem Chasing the Cure team worked so hard today to get the car handling the way I needed it to and I was able to work my way toward the front. I wish we could have had a better finish to show for our hard work today.”
Pit Road Penalty Relegates Jeff Burton to 22nd-Place Finish at Martinsville Speedway
A penalty on a lap-394 pit stop thwarted Jeff Burton’s solid run at Martinsville Speedway in the TUMS Fast Relief 500. After a solid top-five qualifying effort, the South Boston, Va., native reported to crew chief Drew Blickensderfer in the initial laps that the No. 31 EnerSys/ODYSSEY Battery Chevrolet developed a loose-handling condition. Blickensderfer called for chassis and air pressure adjustments during multiple pit stops throughout the first half of the 500-lap event to find the right balance for Burton. Just past the halfway mark, Burton began his climb up the leaderboard, cracking the top 15 by lap 300. Bad luck struck on lap 394 as a crew member missed a lugnut on a green-flag pit stop which forced NASCAR officials to serve the Richard Childress Racing driver with a pass-through penalty, pinning the No. 31 team three laps down to the leader. Still running competitive lap times, Blickensderfer decided to play pit strategy during lap-393 and lap-440 caution-flag periods by staying out to take the “wave around” pass. Burton worked his way to as high as the 22nd position where he would eventually cross the finish line in the red and black machine. Burton remains 19th in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.
Start – 4 Finish – 22 Laps Led – 0 Points – 19th
JEFF BURTON QUOTE: “We had a really strong car all weekend and it started with the top-five qualifying effort. A mistake on pit road cost us, but it happens. I can’t be mad at these guys. They have been the most consistent pit crew all season. This team never gave up and we had a top-10 car there in the end. Everyone on this EnerSys/ODYSSEY Battery Chevrolet team put in a solid effort all weekend.”