RCR Post Race Report — Food City 500

RCR Post Race Report — Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

RACE: Food City 500

TRACK: Bristol Motor Speedway

Race Highlights:

Richard Childress Racing teammates finished sixth (Jeff Burton), 10th (Paul Menard), 11th (Kevin Harvick) and 22nd (Brendan Gaughan) in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Burton’s 6.718 average running position was fifth-best amongst the 43-car field. Burton had the fourth-highest driver rating with a 107.3. Burton spent 92 percent of the race (460 laps) running in the top 15. Menard tied for fifth in NASCAR’s Loop Data category for Closers driving from 13th to 10th in the final 50 laps (10 percent) of the Food City 500. With an average speed of 112.259 mph during the last 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop, Menard ranked 10th in the NASCAR Loop Data category Fastest Drivers Late in a Run. Harvick tied for sixth in the NASCAR Loop Data category Green-Flag Passes, overtaking 49 positions en route to his 11th-place finish. Harvick ranked ninth in the Loop Data category Fastest Drivers Late in a Run with an average speed of 112.322 mph. Harvick moved up one position to second in the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers championship point standings, just nine points behind leader Greg Biffle. The event at Bristol served as Gaughan’s 40th-career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start and his third of four races with the Welcome, N.C.-based organization. Brad Keselowski scored the win in Sunday’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway with Matt Kenseth, Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers completing the top five. The next NSCS race is the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on Sunday, March 25, televised live on FOX beginning at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time and broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius XM Satellite Radio beginning at 2 p.m. EST.

Paul Menard and the No. 27 Moen/Menards Team Earn a Top-10 Finish in Thunder Valley

Paul Menard and the No. 27 Moen/Menards team emerged unscathed from Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway to earn their third top-10 finish of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Starting from the 11th position, Menard raced in the top 15 for the majority of the 500-lap affair. Utilizing visits to pit road while under caution, the Slugger Labbe-led crew applied adjustments to help the No. 27 Chevrolet’s tight-center handling and drive off of the corners. Just past the halfway point of the event, Menard reported the drive off was much improved but the car’s balance was now hindered with the splitter hitting the track. Despite additional adjustments, the splitter issue persisted. However, the Eau Claire, Wis., native remained in the top 15. Labbe called Menard to pit road during the last caution period of the afternoon and the Moen/Menards pit crew serviced the Chevrolet with right-side Goodyear tires. Restarting in the top 10, Menard drove as high as sixth in the final 27 laps, but finished 10th as he continued to struggle with a tight-handling condition at the end of the race. Menard moved up one position to 10th in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.   .

Start – 11                 Finish – 10                Laps Led – 0            Points – 10


“Track position was everything today. We stayed out of trouble for 500 laps, but struggled to make it out of the top 15. The Moen/Menards team did a great job in the pits today, too. The last pit stop moved us into the top 10 and I thought we had enough to get into the top five, but the car tightened up a lot at the very end. Still, a top 10 is a solid finish, especially in the points.”

Kevin Harvick and the Budweiser Racing Team Overcome Early Incident to Finish 11th at Bristol

Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet team rebounded from an early wreck to score an 11th-place finish in Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. After starting the 500-lap affair from the 14th position, Harvick quickly gained one position before cars ahead of him made contact in turns one and two where and the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet was collected in the aftermath. He brought the car to pit road multiple times under caution for service and crew chief Shane Wilson calmly instructed the team on the repair plan, making sure they remained on the lead lap . After a lengthy caution period to clean up the debris from the accident, the 18-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winner restarted in the 35th position at lap 46. With more than 450 laps remaining in the event, Harvick and crew knew if they were patient and stayed out of additional trouble, there was still plenty of time left to work their way back up into contention at Thunder Valley. Patiently working on the Budweiser Chevrolet at every opportunity, Wilson called for adjustments on the handling during the team’s additional five visits to pit road over the course of the event Their perseverance paid off as Harvick and the Budweiser Racing Team were able to battle back to take the checkered flag in the 11th position and in the process, gain ground on the leader of the 2012 Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings, sitting only nine markers out of the top spot.

Start – 14                  Finish – 11                Laps Led – 0             Points – 2


You guys were in the first wreck today. What happened there?

“By the time they told me to check up, I was in it. I didn’t even have time to touch the brakes before I was into the car in front of me. All in all, I think we had a fairly decent day considering all the damage. We hung onto the lead lap all day and finished 11th. I think everybody did a good job and I’ve just got to thank everybody on my No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet team for fixing the car up and doing the best we could with a wrecked car.”

A lot of guys said guys were racing way too hard too early. Is that what happened out there? “Probably not. It’s one of those things where it’s just so hard to pass and everybody gets to running up high and it becomes so hard to pass that you take all you can when you can get it.”

Jeff Burton Tops Off Consistent Effort with Top-10 Finish at Bristol

Jeff Burton and the No. 31 BB&T Chevrolet team scored their second top-10 finish of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, placing sixth in Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Burton began his trek to the front early in the event after qualifying 33rd on Friday. Crew chief Drew Blickensderfer knew the 500-lap race at the half-mile bullring would turn into a trademark “track position race” for drivers and made the decision to keep South Boston, Va. native on the track under the first yellow-flag period on lap 25 instead of coming to pit road for routine service. The result of the decision was a top-10 restarting position for Burton and valuable track position that he did not relinquish for the remainder of the event. The Richard Childress Racing driver showcased the raw speed and handling that his Chevrolet Impala possessed by bullying his way up to as high as third position before a lap-341 yellow-flag period. Under that caution, Burton was directed by Blickensderfer to start conserving fuel in the event the remainder of the race was completed under green-flag conditions. The 21-time Sprint Cup Series winner dropped to seventh while saving fuel and wrestling with a tight condition that developed on the No. 31 machine toward the conclusion of the race. Burton was able to hang tough and finish off the final 17-lap dash to the checkered flag in the sixth position, scoring the highest finish for Chevrolet in the 43-car field. With the strong finish, Burton now sits 11th in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings, 37 points behind current leader Greg Biffle.

Start – 33                  Finish – 6                Laps Led – 0            Points – 11


“I really couldn’t be any more proud of the guys working on this BB&T Chevrolet. We qualified poorly on Friday and worked hard to get the car where it needed to be for a top-five run today. It just shows how important track position really is at a place like Bristol.”

Brendan Gaughan Finishes 22nd in the Thunder Valley of Bristol Motor Speedway

Brendan Gaughan and the No. 33 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet team earned a 22nd-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon. Starting from the 32nd position, Gaughan moved up to the 25th position when the first caution flag of the day came out for a multicar incident on lap 23. The extended clean up lasted until the NASCAR-mandated competition caution on lap 40, but crew chief Gil Martin made the call for the No. 33 Chevrolet to stay out to gain track position. The Las Vegas-native held strong in the top-15 for much of the first 150 laps, but fell back to 23rd on lap 196 and went one lap down to the leaders as he reported a concern with the throttle spring. Gaughan continued to battle his way around the track, posting times that rivaled the times of the top-15 positions. As the laps ticked down, Gaughan reported he lost his front brakes, and on lap 476, he made contact with the No. 14 car, bringing out the yellow flag. Martin called the driver to come down pit road during the caution on lap 480 to take a look at the brakes, changing four tires and fuel. As the field restarted for the final laps, Gaughan competed in the 22nd position and remained there to take the checkered flag. Gaughan returns to the No. 33 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet next week at Auto Club Speedway for his final of four races in the RCR Sprint Cup Series entry.

Start – 32                  Finish – 22                Laps Led – 0             Points – n/a


“I hate that our day ended that way. We lost our front brakes there toward the end of the race and got into the No. 14 car, which I hate for their team. We had a good day on track and in the pits. Thanks to Gil (Martin), Richard Childress and the entire No. 33 team. I’m looking forward to heading to Fontana next week for our last race on the schedule in the No. 33 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com


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