RCR Event Preview – Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 and Heads Up Georgia 250

Richard Childress Racing’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history at Atlanta Motor Speedway … In 137 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Richard Childress Racing has earned nine wins and three pole awards, including Kevin Harvick’s emotional victory in the Cracker Barrel 500 on March 11, 2001. Dale Earnhardt won eight times at the Hampton, Ga.-based track under the RCR banner. Additionally, RCR boasts 29 top-five and 57 top-10 finishes at AMS and RCR-prepared Chevrolets have led 2,935 laps at the ultra-fast, 1.54-mile oval. Richard Childress, a former driver on NASCAR’s senior circuit, recorded his best finish at AMS, ninth, in the Atlanta Journal 500 on Nov. 2, 1980.

RCR in the NSCS … In 2,631 Sprint Cup Series starts dating back to 1969, RCR has amassed 46 pole awards,105 wins, 468 top-five finishes and 1005 top-10 finishes, with an average starting position of 17.8 and an average finishing position of 16.0. RCR has earned 15 total championships (six Sprint Cup Series championships with Earnhardt in 1986, ’87, ’90, ’91, ’93 and ’94, six NASCAR XFINITY Series titles, two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series titles and one ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards title) and was the first organization to win titles in NASCAR’s three national series.

The Collective RCR … RCR’s three full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers rank ninth (Dillon), 11th (Newman) and 18th (Menard) in the driver championship point standings.

Grace’s Story … Have you seen Grace’s story? At 17 she was in a life-threatening car accident. She endured multiple surgeries before doctors discovered her injuries left her susceptible to a rare and deadly infection. She was transferred to specialists at a Level I Pediatric Trauma Center for treatment. After 21 surgeries, 77 days in the ICU, 30 blood transfusions and multiple complications, Grace was healed. She’s now studying nursing to help others like her. Learn more about Grace and other pediatric trauma survivors at SaveInjuredKids.org.

Catch the Action … The Folds of Honor Quick Trip 500 will be televised live Sunday, Feb. 28 beginning at 1 p.m. ET on FOX and will be broadcast live on the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

This Week’s Dow Chevrolet at Atlanta Motor Speedway … Austin Dillon will pilot Chassis No. 532 in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. This is the same Chevrolet SS that Dillon drove to a 14th-place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2015.

Dillon at Atlanta Motor Speedway … In three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Dillon’s best finish is 19th in 2013.

Dow and RCR Embracing Science, Technology and Safety … Returning primary sponsor of the No.3 Chevrolet SS, Dow enters its third season with RCR and driver Austin Dillon. Together, both teams embrace the power of science, technology and safety as RCR tests Dow products under the most strenuous conditions. Dow also drives innovation to help address many of the world’s most challenging problems, bringing a broad range of sustainable products and solutions to customers in nearly 180 countries with more than 6,000 product families manufactured across the globe.  More information about Dow can be found at dow.com

Meet Dillon … Dillon is scheduled to appear in the QuikTrip Fan Zone, located in the Atlanta Motor Speedway Fan Zone, on Saturday, February 27 at 10:15 a.m. ET. He is also scheduled to sign autographs at the NASCAR Trackside Superstore on Sunday, February 28 at 9:30 a.m. ET. A $25 RCR apparel purchase is required in order to meet Dillon. He is scheduled to participate in a Q&A session at the Team Chevy Stage, located in the Atlanta Motor Speedway Fan Zone, at 10 a.m., also on Sunday.

Any expectations for Atlanta Motor Speedway heading into the track with a new rules package?
“I think Atlanta Motor Speedway will be important for RCR. It’s the real start to the 2016 race season with the new rules package and we’ll be able to see where we line up compared to other teams.  We’ve been really focused. We’ve been working hard in the off season and I think the guys have done a good job. I’m anxious to get to Atlanta more than anything to see how we line up and to see how our vehicles turn and handle at a mile-and-half track.”

How does Atlanta Motor Speedway compare to other mile-and-a-halves?
“Atlanta Motor Speedway is a lot different than the other mile-and-a-halves we go to because of the asphalt and how worn it is. I think it’s one of those curve balls. That’s kind of how Homestead-Miami Speedway is, too. There’s about three tracks that are worn out like that. It’s definitely fun racing when you can get your car right and you can figure out the track. Last year it was really cold on race weekend and it resulted in some pretty quick speeds. It’ll be interesting to see how weather plays a factor this year.”

How are you liking the new digital dash?
“The digital dash looks really cool and is a great addition to the sport but it’s definitely tough, especially on pit road. Because it’s so accurate, it makes it tough to follow. I think they’re trying to make a light bar where it’s a little less. There’s a lot of jump that goes on it and I struggled with it at Homestead-Miami Speedway last year and a little bit at Daytona International Speedway this year because it moves so fast and is not delayed enough to where you can really stay on your time. I think you’ll see some speeding penalties with guys trying to push it too much. If there’s any kind of buck in the motor, or if it’s not smooth, that dash will read differently and you kind of get scared and you’re not using it to your advantage. We’re definitely working on the timing of it. I think that’s a big part of it.”
This Week’s Valvoline / Menards Chevrolet at Atlanta Motor Speedway … Paul Menard will utilize chassis No. 528 in Sunday’s 500.5-mile race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. This Chevrolet SS is new to the No. 27 Chevrolet team and will see action with Menard behind the wheel for the first time this weekend.

Menard in Atlanta … The Eau Claire, Wisconsin native has 14 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at the 1.54-mile speedway. Menard has one top-five and three top-10 finishes with 98.3 percent of laps completed and two laps led.

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What do you anticipate this year at Atlanta Motor Speedway with the new rules package?
“We definitely know this package races better than what we had previously. The key is going to be how the tires match up to the downforce. If we get some good, grippy tires that have fall off so we can put big numbers on the board in qualifying but then grip falls off so we can race side-by-side. That’s what we are all looking for and Atlanta is a great track to start it off at.”

Do you like tire wear as a driver and the way lanes changes as the race progresses?
“Yeah, I’m not sure there’s any driver that doesn’t like it. We enjoy it because you can just race better. You can take care of your tires when you need to, and if you feel like you need to be aggressive then you can try to use up your tires. There are just different strategies and things you can do as a driver if you’re not locked down going the same speed every lap.”
This Week’s Caterpillar Chevrolet SS at Atlanta Motor Speedway … Ryan Newman will pilot a brand new car, No. 531, in the second event in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule, the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500, at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Newman at AMS … In 23 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Newman owns seven pole awards, including sweeping six-straight poles encompassing the 2003 to 2005 Sprint Cup seasons. He owns two top-five and nine top-10 finishes. His best results of fifth place came in 2013 and at the spring 2004 event. The South Bend, Ind., native has an average start of 7.4 and average finish of 16.9. He’s led a total of 175 laps in competition. In the Camping World Trucks Series, he captured the victory in the fall 2008 race.

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What are your thoughts on running the new rules package this weekend in Atlanta?
“I think the new rules package is going to be great. I think it’s a good starting point for where we need to be eventually which is back to the 1990s versus the 2000s. Having less downforce on the car is going to make the drivers have to perform and make it more challenging to perform. In my opinion, that’s what it should be all about. Our cars have become so aero dependent that it just was so unfair to have track position especially with how our sport is structured with the fastest car up front. I think the racing will get so much better when the cars are less aero dependent.”

Richard Childress Racing in the NASCAR XFINITY Series at Atlanta Motor Speedway… In 36 Series starts at the 1.5-mile paved oval, RCR has captured three victories with drivers Jeff Burton (2006 and 2007) and Kevin Harvick (2013). The Welcome, N.C., organization has completed 6,889 laps of the 7,020 (98.1 percent) that they have competed. RCR has accumulated one pole award, 10 top-five and 21 top-10 finishes, led 465 laps and averages a starting position of 11.7 and finishing position of 10.9.

Daytona Review … Austin Dillon was the highest RCR finisher in fifth, Brandon Jones was seventh, Brendan Gaughan 10th and Ty Dillon 13th, respectively, in the XFINITY Series Powershares QQQ 300 at Daytona International Speedway.

The Points … All three RCR XFINITY Series full-time drivers remain in the top 10 of the driver point standings as the Series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend for the second event of the season. Brandon Jones is currently third, Brendan Gaughan is sixth and Ty Dillon is eighth. The No. 2 RCR team is fifth in the owner point standings.

Catch the Action … Coverage of this weekend’s XFINITY Head’s Up Georgia 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway will be televised live on Saturday, February 27, beginning at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time on FOX Sports 1. It will also be broadcast live on Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM channel 90.

This Week’s Richmond/Menards Chevrolet at Atlanta Motor Speedway … Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 163 in the Head’s Up Georgia 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. This Chevrolet Camaro was revamped during the off season and positioned back into rotation for 2016. Menard drove No. 163 to victory lane at Road America last season.

Statistical Analysis … In seven previous XFINITY Series starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Menard has earned three top-10 finishes. The RCR driver holds an average starting position of 13.1 coupled with an average finishing position of 14.0.

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No. 2 Team by the Numbers … With one XFINITY Series event complete in 2016, the No. 2 team has one top-five finish and five laps led to their credit. Austin Dillon returns to the driver’s seat of the No. 2 Chevrolet next weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

What challenges do the No. 2 team face when switching between multiple drivers?
“We don’t really face many changes. When you have NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers behind the wheel, it makes things a lot easier on the team. They know exactly what they want the car to drive because of all of their experience. We’re able to utilize practice to get the balance just right on the car which allows us to start the race off prepared for whatever may come our way.”

The No. 2 team earned a third-place finish last year at Atlanta Motor Speedway. What can you take away from that race and apply to this weekend’s event?
“We have a solid notebook of data going into the weekend. We have one goal: win. Paul runs really well at Atlanta and likes the track a lot. I feel like we have what it takes to put him in victory lane this weekend.”
This Week’s Rheem Chevrolet at Atlanta Motor Speedway… Ty Dillon will pilot chassis No. 168 for this weekend’s Heads Up Georgia 250. This Richard Childress Racing-prepared Chevrolet Camaro debuted at Darlington Raceway last September.

Dillon at Atlanta Motor Speedway… In two NASCAR XFINITY Series starts at the 1.5-mile track, Dillon has two top-10 finishes and one top-five finish. Atlanta Motor Speedway is also a track of firsts for Dillon – he won his first NASCAR race on August 31, 2012 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and made his first-career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start in August, 2014.

Happy Birthday, Ty! … Dillon will celebrate his 24th birthday on Saturday, February 27th. The XFINITY Series regular shares a birthday with Fox Sports 1 analyst, Todd Bodine.

Black-and-red Chevy … Rheem, a global leader in heating, cooling and water heating products, will serve as primary sponsor for select races on the No. 3 Chevrolet Camaro this season.

EcoNet at your Service … Rheem, a global leader in heating, cooling and water heating, introduced EcoNet in 2015. It is a smart system that homeowners use to manage high-efficiency, EcoNet-enabled Rheem and Ruud products from anywhere worldwide through a free mobile app or a wall-mounted Control Center. EcoNet also notifies homeowners when their equipment needs service through maintenance alerts available through the EcoNet app. For more information, visit www.Rheem.com.

Meet Ty Dillon … Dillon and older brother Austin Dillon are scheduled to visit the Team Chevy stage located in the Fan Midway on Sunday, February 28 beginning at 10 a.m. ET.

Your team feels that it will be the team to beat this season. Why?
“We are a veteran group and we’re comfortable around each other. Our team realizes what’s at stake this season and anything less than a championship is not acceptable. We showed a little of what we are capable of this past weekend in Daytona – we went out and executed our plan, won the pole, and were competitive all race. I’m looking forward to this weekend’s race and debuting on a 1.5-mile track, which I know we have made great improvements over the off season on those length of tracks.”

How will you celebrate your birthday?
“Racing! Saturday will be a busy day getting ready for the race. So hopefully Friday night my wife and I can go out to dinner at a nice restaurant and spend some time together. I’ve been blessed to be able to race for half of my life now – it’s something I love and never regret choosing as a lifestyle.”

This Week’s Roland Chevrolet at Atlanta Speedway … Brandon Jones will pilot Chassis No. 169 in the Head’s Up Georgia 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. This Richard Childress Racing-prepared Chevrolet Camaro has five top-10 starting positions and two top-10 finishing positions to date.

Atlanta Details … This weekend’s Head’s Up Georgia 250 marks Jones first appearance at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Jones has accumulated 14 starts on tracks one to two miles in length across the XFINITY Series and Camping World Truck Series where he recorded three top-five and five top-10 finishes.

Welcome, Roland … Roland DGA Corporation is a leading provider of wide-format inkjet printers for vehicle graphics, signs, textiles, and specialty goods. Roland printers and printer/cutters are the technology of choice for the Richard Childress Racing Graphics Center in the production of wraps for all of RCR’s race cars, show cars and support vehicles, as well as packaging, displays and specialty graphics for Childress Vineyards.

Hometown Proud … Hailing from Atlanta, Jones returns home to compete in front of his hometown crowd for Saturday’s Head’s Up Georgia 250. Before the season began, Jones traveled to Fort Benning in Columbia, Ga., to visit with soldiers on base and learned how to operate a U.S. Army tank.

Meet the Driver … Jones is scheduled to appear in Club One at Atlanta Motor Speedway for a Q&A session on Saturday, Feb. 27 beginning at 10 a.m. local time. Club One is located in the Winners Grandstand.

You haven’t been to Atlanta Motor Speedway yet, could this be a good learning experience for the 1.5-mile tracks you’ll visit this year?
“I think it’s going to race a lot like other 1.5-mile tracks. You’ll be wide open there for a couple of laps then you’ll have to start giving up a little bit. The surface is rougher than other 1.5-mile tracks I’ve raced, so tire management is going to be key to having a successful race. We’ll keep a close eye on that during practice on Friday.”

Historically, Atlanta is one of those tracks where the groove widens out as the race progresses. Is that the type of racing you enjoy?
“Yeah, I like it a lot. It makes for really good racing when we can all move around like that. You can keep hunting for different lines that allow for easier passing. It’s like a game from the driver’s seat. You’re always looking for a new line that can give you the added edge on your competitor. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

What is your agenda for the weekend?
“I’ll spend a lot of time at RCR throughout the week leading into the race weekend to look at data that’s been collected from previous races. I like to look at race tapes and what strategies were used in the past. It helps me learn what I can expect going to that race track for the first time. I have a really strong team that will help me learn and adjust to the track pretty quickly.”

This Week’s South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet at Atlanta Motor Speedway… Brendan Gaughan will pilot chassis No. 165 in Saturday’s Head’s Up Georgia 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. This Richard Childress Racing-prepared Chevrolet Camaro last saw action at Kansas Speedway in 2015 where the team qualified eighth and finished 10th.

Gaughan at Atlanta Motor Speedway … In four NASCAR XFINITY Series starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the 40-year-old driver earned his best finish of 12th one year ago. The Las Vegas native has also earned two top-10 finishes in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

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Is Atlanta the most fun 1.5-mile track?
“The asphalt is older now, which is nice. It is definitely like Atlanta used to be where after about 5-10 laps you really have to hold on. You have the wall groove a half inch from the wall. Then you’ve got the white line that people run, three or four even five grooves wide. It is one of our favorite mile and-a-half race tracks because the asphalt is old again. That’s what makes it fun for us when stuff wears out.”

Do you notice a change year-to-year with surface aging?
“Yeah, but once it gets to a certain aging point you don’t notice it anymore. When it was repaved Goodyear had to bring a hard tire. Now that the surface has aged they can bring the tire that wears out again. It is a lot of fun when Goodyear can bring a softer tire.”

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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