RCR Event Preview – Sonoma Raceway / Iowa Speedway

Richard Childress Racing in Wine Country … In 66 starts at the 10-turn stadium course, Richard Childress Racing owns two wins, with Dale Earnhardt in the 1995 Save Mart Supermarkets 300 and with Robby Gordon in the Save Mart 350 in 2003, one pole award (Earnhardt, 1995), 14 top-five and 26 top-10 finishes. The Welcome, N.C.,-based team has led 140 laps at Sonoma, completed 6,894 of the 6,940 laps contested (99.3 percent) and recorded just one DNF (Did Not Finish) over that stretch (1989-2016).

RCR in the MENCS … In 2,781 Monster Energy Cup Series starts dating back to 1969, RCR has amassed 48 pole awards,107 wins, 479 top-five finishes and 1,039 top-10 finishes, with an average starting position of 17.7 and an average finishing position of 16.1. RCR has earned 15 total championships (six Monster Energy NASCAR 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.

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Interactive RCR … For up-to-date news and exclusive content, visit RCR’s corporate Twitter page – @RCRracing – along with the RCR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team Twitter page – @RCRCup, and driver Twitter pages @austindillon3 and @RyanJNewman. Information about the 15-time championship winning organization can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RichardChildressRacing and at www.RCRracing.com along with official driver pages – http://www.facebook.com/austindillon3, www.facebook.com/PaulMenard27 and www.facebook.com/RyanNewmanNASCAR.

Catch the Action … The Sonoma 350 at Sonoma Raceway is scheduled to be televised live on Sunday, June 25 on FOX Sports 1 beginning at 3 p.m. Eastern Time and broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Satellite Radio, channel 90.

 

This Week’s Dow Coating Materials Chevrolet at Sonoma Raceway … Dillon has three previous Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at the 10-turn, 1.99-mile Sonoma Raceway road course, earning his best finish of 17th in 2014 and 2015.

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AUSTIN DILLON QUOTES:
How mentally draining can Sonoma Raceway be?
“You are doing a lot of work there and it pays to be good to your tires early in the run there because of all the fall off. Truthfully, as far as track surfaces go, Sonoma Raceway and Atlanta Motor Speedway are probably the closest two. I have been working a lot in simulators and on the competition side to get better at road courses. So, I’m looking forward to the opportunity of Sonoma and trying to make one of our best road course runs there coming up.”

Are those fun weekends for you road course racing?
“Well, they are for me. I hate it for the team because they have to deal with me through that whole weekend. I feel like I’m a rookie at those and I’ve got to get better. We are working hard to get better at them.”

 

 

This Week’s Tarkett / Menards Chevrolet at Sonoma Raceway … Paul Menard will be making his 10th start at Sonoma Raceway in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this weekend. Menard’s highest finish of fifth came in 2014. He also has one start at the 2.52-mile road course in the NASCAR Southwest Series from 2002, in which he finished eighth. Menard has completed 1,060 laps of the 1,061 laps (99.9 percent) he has competed in at Sonoma.

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PAUL MENARD QUOTES:
Road course racing has gotten to be what we used to think of as short track racing with the beating and banging of cars and aggression of moves being made on the track. Why has it evolved like that?
“We’re not road racers, so that’s probably the number one reason. Everyone in the garage has gotten pretty good at road racing, but our cars are not made to go road racing. When we do go out there, we don’t have the grip that sports cars have or the down force of open wheel cars, and that forces us to have to lean on each other to make it through those corners.”
 

This week at Sonoma we have our first road course race of the season. When we head out west, other than the race, what do you like to do?
“I normally go from the hotel to the race track and back to the hotel. With the team, we’ve been staying in Petaluma, California, which has a nice river nearby. In the past we’ve gone down and done some paddle boarding and those types of things. Normally though, no sight-seeing for me. I focus on the racing.”

This Week’s No. 31 Chevrolet Accessories SS at Sonoma Raceway … Newman will make his 564th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start when the Series competes in the first road-course event of the season. In 15 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series events at the 10-turn, 1.99-mile road course, Newman owns two top-five and seven top-10 finishes. He has led 11 laps and completed all 1,657 laps of competition. The South Bend, Ind., native has an average start of 12.7 and average finish of 12.3. In the last 10 races at the road course, the Richard Childress Racing driver ranks sixth in most points earned.

Winner, Winner … Newman punched his ticket to the MENCS playoffs with a victory at Phoenix Raceway on March 19th in the No. 31 Grainger Chevrolet. The win equates to the driver’s 18th-career Cup Series victory and RCR’s 106th.

CHEVROLET … Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world’s largest car brands, doing business in more than 115 countries and selling more than 4.0 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature engaging performance, design that makes the heart beat, passive and active safety features and easy-to-use technology, all at a value. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at chevrolet.com.

RYAN NEWMAN QUOTES:
What is the key to being successful at Sonoma Raceway?
“The key to being successful at Sonoma Raceway is keeping your rear tires alive, not overheating them. You need to be good to your brakes and having a car that turns and rotates. You’ve got to be multi-talented because Sonoma boasts so many different types of corners. You’ve got to be able to drive through them all, mistake-free.”

Is there a corner for you that’s difficult to get right the entire time?
“I think the hardest part for me at Sonoma Raceway is really the easiest corner. It’s the esses. The car is most misbalanced are the fastest corners for whatever reason. It’s been like that for years for me. Hopefully if we can get those esses tightened up, we’ll be good.”

What is your favorite part of Sonoma Raceway?
“My favorite part is getting into Turn 11. There’s heavy braking. You can dive bomb somebody or just do what you have to do to stay in front of somebody. I don’t like blocking and I don’t like drivers who do block. I’d rather just race and blocking is for chickens.”

How hard is it to keep the aggression in check?
“I think the hardest part of the road course is kind of containing your emotions because you are falling behind in so many corners because you cannot pass. You just kind of struggle mentally to not want to beat the guy up that you have in front of you, turn them around or whatever. You might have a fast car but there really is only two or three good passing zones on the track.”

 

 

Richard Childress Racing in the NASCAR XFINITY Series at Iowa Speedway … In 37 Series starts at the 7/8-mile speedway, RCR has captured one victory with Elliott Sadler in 2012. The Welcome, North Carolina, organization has completed 9,162 laps of the 9,326 (98.2 percent) that they have competed. RCR has accumulated three pole awards, 12 top-five and 23 top-10 finishes, led 521 laps and averages a starting position of 9.5 and finishing position of 10.0.

Michigan Review … Ty Dillon was the highest RCR finisher in sixth, Paul Menard seventh, Brandon Jones ninth, Daniel Hemric 12th and Brendan Gaughan 14th, respectively, at Michigan International Speedway.

The Points … All three RCR XFINITY Series full-time drivers remain in the top 20 of the driver point standings as the Series heads to Iowa Speedway for the 14th event of the season. Daniel Hemric is currently fourth, Brendan Gaughan is 13th and Brandon Jones is 16th. The No. 2 and No. 3 RCR teams are seventh and ninth, respectively in the owner point standings. Daniel Hemric is currently second in the XFINITY Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year point standings.

Catch the Action … Coverage of this weekend’s American Ethanol E15 250 at Iowa Speedway will be televised live on Saturday, June 24, beginning at 8:30 p.m. ET on FS1. It will also be broadcast live on Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM channel 90.

 

 

This Week’s Rheem Chevrolet at Iowa Speedway … This weekend, Ben Kennedy returns to the track that he made his NASCAR XFINTY Series debut at last year. The Florida native heads to Iowa Speedway in the No. 2 Rheem Chevrolet Camaro for his second start with Richard Childress Racing this season. In his single NXS race at the short track last year, Kennedy finished on the lead lap in 10th place. He has competed in four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races in Iowa, with his best finish of sixth place coming in 2014.

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Meet Ben … Fans will have the opportunity to meet Kennedy at the NXS driver autograph session on Saturday, starting at 3:30 p.m. local time. He will appear with his RCR teammates and other NXS drivers in the midway to take pictures and sign autographs.

BEN KENNEDY QUOTES:
After making your XFINITY Series debut in Iowa last year, what did you learn that you can apply to this year’s race?
“I mostly learned about the NXS cars and how they drive. It was really my first time behind the wheel of one of those cars, but it was a great experience. We had a good run, and I personally learned a lot. I’ve run a couple more NXS races since then, so hopefully the added seat time will pay off. I also spent time in the simulator turning laps around Iowa with Scott Lagasse, Jr. a few weeks ago to prepare for the weekend. I’m looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of the No. 2 Rheem Chevy and having some fun this weekend.”

You worked with Justin Alexander earlier this year, but have you had a chance to work with and talk to Randall Burnett, the new crew chief of the No. 2 Rheem Chevy?
“Randall and I have been talking over the past couple of weeks to get ready for Iowa, and we’ve already got our game plan mapped out. I haven’t worked with him before, but it seems like he’s a really great fit for the team. He’s already proven in the short time he’s been at RCR that he can build a racecar capable of running up front. He has a lot of experience, especially at the Cup level, and he knows what he’s doing without a doubt.”

 

 

This Week’s SCREEN YOUR MACHINE™/American Cancer Society Chevrolet at Iowa Speedway … The NASCAR XFINITY Series returns to Iowa Speedway this weekend for the first of two races in 2017. Also for the first time this season, Scott Lagasse, Jr. will be behind the wheel of the No. 3 SCREEN YOUR MACHINE™/American Cancer Society Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing. In his only previous start at the short track in 2009, Lagasse, Jr. brought home a ninth-place finish.

Cancer doesn’t care about your age … “SCREEN YOUR MACHINE™” is a collaborative effort with the American Cancer Society (ACS) and is Scott Lagasse Jr.’s personal and passionate quest to encourage people to be screened for all types of cancer. Lagasse, Jr. is alive and healthy today as a colon cancer survivor because he made the decision to be screened (even though he was under the recommended screening age) when he sensed something “not quite right” while training for a triathlon event. Being an athlete, he was sensitive to what his body was telling him. Lagasse, Jr. is an outspoken proponent for cancer screening and official ambassador for ACS (cancer.org/screen) & Fight Colorectal Cancer (FightCRC.org). SCREEN YOUR MACHINE™ (screenyourmachine.com)

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Meet Scott … Fans will have the opportunity to meet Lagasse, Jr. at the NXS driver autograph session on Saturday, starting at 3:30 p.m. local time. He will appear with his RCR teammates and other NXS drivers in the midway to take pictures and sign autographs.

SCOTT LAGASSE, JR. QUOTES:
What are your thoughts as you head to Iowa for the first time since 2009?
“I am really looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the No. 3 SCREEN YOUR MACHINE™/American Cancer Society Chevrolet in Iowa this weekend. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to drive for RCR in several races this year. I had an opportunity with RCR in November of 2014 at Homestead, but I was too ill to race and instead ended up in the hospital close by the track. That was a tough race to let go of. I’m looking forward to making up for that this weekend. All of the RCR teams have been competitive in Iowa over the past few years, and we expect to have a great weekend. Our guys have worked hard preparing for this, and I can’t wait to climb in and compete.”

Why is the SCREEN YOUR MACHINE campaign so important to you?
“Cancer affects us all, and I feel extremely fortunate that mine was detected early enough that a couple of procedures and surgery has hopefully made me good for the long haul. I’m passionate about this cause and encourage everyone over 50, to get screened for cancer. I feel blessed that I can help save lives through working with the American Cancer Society and Fight CRC and we are ready to become more visible with the SCREEN YOUR MACHINE™/American Cancer Society campaign this weekend.”

 

 

This Week’s Blue Gate Bank Chevrolet Camaro at Iowa Speedway … Hemric will be making his first NASCAR XFINITY Series start at Iowa Speedway during this weekend’s American Ethanol E15 250 Presented by Enogen. Hemric has two previous NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at Iowa Speedway, earning an average finish of 11.5.

Meet the Driver … Fans will have the opportunity to meet Hemric during the XFINITY Series autograph session on Saturday, June 24, starting at 3:30 p.m. local time. Hemric will also appear at the Team Chevy display with teammate Brandon Jones, starting at 4:20 p.m. local time.

Rearview Mirror: Michigan … Hemric earned his 10th top-15 finish of the season Saturday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway. Starting from the rear of the field after adjustments following qualifying, Hemric quickly made his way through the field to just outside the top 10.

DANIEL HEMRIC QUOTES:
This is your first time at Iowa Speedway in the XFINITY Series car. Are you looking forward to in this weekend’s race?
“With it being a stand-alone event and getting back to a short track, I’m really looking forward to this weekend’s race at Iowa Speedway. I feel like the place we’ve had good cars underneath us and good long-run speed is at the short tracks. We’re going to a track that my crew chief Danny Stockman loves and has a lot of success. When we’ve gone to places Danny enjoys and has had success at in the past, we’ve often run well. Hopefully we can go there and have speed and contend for a good finish in the Blue Gate Bank Chevrolet.”

Are you looking forward to the stand-alone XFINITY Series races of the season?
“I enjoy running with the Cup drivers week-in and week-out. It pushes us to be better. The way the last couple of weeks have gone, I think we’ll have a good run no matter who it is with.”

 

 

This Week’s ATLAS / Menards Chevrolet Camaro at Iowa Speedway … Iowa Speedway is one of Brandon Jones’ most visited and successful tracks. The 20-year old driver earned a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East win at the 7/8-mile track in August 2014. He also secured two top-five and three top-10 finishes in the K&N East division. Jones also has one ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards start and three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts, which resulted in one top-five finish at the short track. Jones has four starts at Iowa in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and one top-10 finish of eighth, which he earned in May 2015.

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Meet the Driver … Fans will have multiple opportunities to meet Brandon Jones at Iowa Speedway this weekend. Jones will be at the U.S. Cellular display for a Q&A session with Brendan Gaughan on Friday, June 23, beginning at 2:40 p.m. local time and again on Saturday, June 24, beginning at 3 p.m. local time. Jones will later be at the Team Chevy display at 4:20 p.m. local time with RCR teammate Daniel Hemric on Saturday, June 24.

Autographs, Please … Brandon Jones is scheduled to participate in the XFINITY Series autograph session beginning at 3:30 p.m. local time on Saturday, June 24.

BRANDON JONES QUOTES:
We head to Iowa Speedway this weekend where you finished 12th a year ago. Is there enough speed being carried for Iowa to be considered a speedway, or since it’s under a mile, is it a short track?
“Iowa Speedway is my favorite track that we go to, partly because of the fact that it’s a short track but races like a 1.5-mile speedway. You’re not carrying 190 miles per hour into the corners, but you can still side draft and take the air off of my competitors. So in that aspect, it feels like a mile and a half, but I think it’s ultimately a short track. You have to brake pretty hard in the corners. It’s a very technical track. I really enjoy the racing we put on there.”

 

 

This Week’s Kum & Go Chevrolet at Iowa Speedway … In 10 NASCAR XFINITY Series starts at Iowa Speedway, Gaughan has earned one top-5 and three top-10 finishes.

Last Time at Iowa … The No. 62 Richard Childress Racing team started from the eighth position last July at Iowa Speedway. The U.S. Cellular team battled in the top 15 for a majority of the 250-lap event. Gaughan recovered from an early race incident and climbed back to an 11th-place finish.

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Meet Brendan Gaughan … Gaughan is scheduled to appear at the U.S Cellular display located in the midway at Iowa Speedway at 2:50 p.m. local time Friday June, 23 and 3 p.m. Local time Saturday, June 24. Gaughan will sign autographs at the XFINITY Drivers autograph session on Saturday, June 24, beginning at 3:30 p.m. under the turn four grandstands.

BRENDAN GAUGHAN QUOTES:
Iowa Speedway, is it a short track or a speedway?
“You know that is the question. For me I liken it to Irwindale, a track that I was so good at. It is a short track that drives like a speedway. You get the short track and the beating and banging, but Rusty Wallace did such a good job designing it that you can go so many places.

Iowa Speedway was designed after Richmond International Raceway, does it race the same way?
No it isn’t like Richmond. I know Rusty designed it to be like Richmond, but it is not. It drives like a completely different animal. It is really fun with two different style corners. Turn 1 and 2 is flatter than Turns 3 and 4, it is a lot bumpier where the tunnel bump is in 1 and 2. It has aged so well. It has the bumps and cuts from accidents on the track. It is definitely a place that is a lot of fun. It’s a stand-alone race so we have that chance to have no cup drivers. Everyone gets a chance to show their stuff.”

 

 



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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