The No. 27 Quaker State/Menards Chevrolet Team Finishes 18th at Atlanta
After persistent rain postponed Sunday night's AdvoCare 500, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams returned to Atlanta Motor Speedway on Tuesday morning, anxious to run the 25th points-paying event of 2011. Paul Menard had more than valuable championship points on the line throughout the 325-lap race - he was a finalist in the Sprint Summer Showdown and was battling for a $3 million payout to be split between one lucky fan, Andrea Gay, his charity of choice, Habitat for Humanity, and himself. Unfortunately, Menard and the Quaker State/Menards team battled track position, additional inclement weather and inconsistent track conditions to bring the No. 27 Chevrolet Impala home in the 18th position. After starting 22nd, Menard was running 21st when the first caution of the morning came out on lap 11. He reported that the car's balance was neutral, but that he lacked grip. He brought the car to pit road for service, and the Slugger Labbe-led crew changed four tires with air pressure adjustments, put a piece of tape onto the front grill and packed the car with Sunoco E15. With some teams opting not to pit, Menard lost valuable track position and was forced to restart 35th. He fought his way back to 27th by the time the competition yellow was displayed by NASCAR at lap 30. Menard informed the team that the previous adjustments had hurt the drive off and he was now tight in the center of the turns. The pit crew changed four tires, added fuel and made additional air pressure and chassis adjustments in hopes of counteracting the handling challenges. He continued to fight both a tight-handling condition and traffic until green-flag pit stops began to occur around lap 75. As Menard drove his Chevrolet down pit road on lap 77 his quick reaction to the exiting No. 17 entry saved both teams heavy damage. Labbe called for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment by the Quaker State/Menards crew. Menard reported the car was much improved, but still suffered from slight tight-center condition and poor drive-off, handling characteristics that he continued to battle for the remainder of the 500 miler. He and the No. 27 team worked diligently to get everything they could, making a variety of air pressure and chassis adjustments with each visit to pit road and climbing to as high as 13th. On lap 202, NASCAR officials displayed the red flag as rain began to fall, halting the field for nearly 25 minutes. When the precipitation finally left the area, Menard restarted strong and overtook the 11th position, his highest of the day. With the track's condition changed from the showers, Menard was faced with handling challenges and slipped to 21st. Labbe and Menard agreed that a track bar adjustment was their best bet with four fresh Goodyear tires and fuel on the final, green-flag pit stop of the afternoon. In the closing laps, the Eau Claire, Wis., native fought back to an 18th-place finish at the Hampton, Ga.-based facility.
Start - 22 Finish - 18 Laps Led - 0 Points - 20
PAUL MENARD QUOTES:
"Unfortunately, we played catch-up all day. We were chasing track position, chasing the track's condition and, when the Quaker State/Menards Chevrolet was handling well, we just seemed to always be stuck behind the group of cars that just couldn't get moving. It was definitely a frustrating afternoon. At the beginning of the race, I really think we had a car that could run up front, we just couldn't get there. I'm sorry I couldn't get the Sprint Summer Showdown win for our fan, Andrea Gay, and for Habitat for Humanity and another win for my guys. That would have really helped our chances to make the Chase (for the Sprint Cup). We'll just go to Richmond now, and do what we do each week, work our hardest, do our best and try to win."
Harvick and the No. 29 Rheem Chevrolet team score Seventh-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway
Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Rheem Chevrolet team earned a seventh-place finish in the AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The start of the race was postponed two days due to rain from remnants of Tropical Storm Lee and when the field took the green on Tuesday morning, Harvick started from the 21st position. On the initial run Harvick reported that the car was too tight as he worked his way up to the 16th position before the caution flag waved for the first time at lap 11. Crew chief Gil Martin called for the team to not pit, as NASCAR had announced a competition caution at lap 30 and teams couldn't take fuel until that point. Harvick restarted from the sixth position at lap 16 and ran inside the top seven until a restart on lap 134. As the field came to the green flag, the No. 18 car appeared to jump the restart and then check up to correct his position, bunching up the field behind him. As a result, the No. 43 car made contact with the No. 29 Rheem Chevrolet, knocking it sideways. Harvick made an impressive save, but fell back to 10th with minor damage to the left-rear bumper. Harvick worked his way back up to fourth before rain brought out the caution at lap 200. Martin called the No. 29 Chevrolet down pit road for tires and fuel two laps later. The field ran under yellow for eight more laps before NASCAR threw the red flag to work on drying the track. Once the track was ready, the green flag waved at lap 219 with Harvick in the third position. He went three wide for the lead, but missed a shift and dropped back to third. The caution flag waved yet again just two laps later as rain continued to plague the race. When the green flag waved at lap 231, Harvick had trouble with the transmission again, missed a shift and fell to fifth. He dropped one more spot as he battled a tight-handling car and was running sixth when the caution flag waved at lap 241. When the team pitted two laps later, Martin called for track bar and air pressure adjustments to help free the car up for Harvick. When the caution flag waved again at lap 250, Harvick reported that the car took off better, turning-wise, after the adjustments. On the subsequent restart he fell back to ninth and reported that splitter damage was killing the car's handling. Harvick worked his way up to seventh before the team pitted under green at lap 283. He narrowed in on the top five in the closing laps, but remained in the seventh position as he took the checkered flag at lap 325.
Start - 21 Finish - 7 Laps Led - 0 Points - 6
KEVIN HARVICK QUOTE:
"The No. 29 Rheem Chevrolet team had a solid race today. We had damage to the splitter that got the car too tight for the last 100 laps or so, but we were a top-five car before that. The guys did a great job on pit road, too."
Burton and Caterpillar Team Fight Back to Finish 13th at Atlanta Motor Speedway
After waiting out weather delays which postponed the start of the AdvoCare 500 for two days, Jeff Burton and the Caterpillar Race Team climbed from their 27th-place starting position to finish 13th at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Tuesday. As inclement weather remained around the Hampton, Ga.-based track, Burton battled ever-changing track conditions throughout 325-lap event which tampered with the handling on the No. 31 Chevrolet Impala. The early portion of the race delivered strong enough handling on the black and yellow machine to allow Burton to move into the top 20 by lap 40. Following quick pit work by the 31 crew on lap 95, the South Boston, Va. native then jumped up to the 13th position for the restart on lap 98. The middle portion of the event brought with it handling frustrations on the No. 31 Chevrolet. Though Burton was searching for more grip into the corners and fighting a tight-handling condition leaving the turns he maintained his position in the top-15, then ultimately moved up to tenth on lap 185. Unfortunately, the handling issues worsened and by lap 200 the No. 31 Chevrolet was listed in the 18th position. With rain in the area and mist beginning to fall over the 1.5-mile speedway, NASCAR waived the yellow flag on lap 202 and most of the teams, including the 31, took the opportunity to hit pit road. While entering the 31 team pit stall in the 18th position, Burton avoided near disaster as the Caterpillar Chevrolet slid on the wet pavement and stopped awkwardly into the stall with the front bumper facing the pit wall. The Caterpillar crew jumped into action to service the No. 31 Chevrolet with four tires and fuel, but the chaos resulted in a loss of ten positions on pit road. Following a 25-minute red flag for rain, Burton took the lap-219 restart in the 28th position. From there the 44-year-old driver used patience to methodically work his way back up through the field, climbing into the top 20 on lap 237 and then up to the top-15 on lap 254. With one final pit stop on lap 283, Burton was able to pick up a few additional positions and bring home the 13th-place effort.
Start - 27 Finish - 13 Laps Led - 0 Points Position - 24
JEFF BURTON QUOTE:
"We had a steady day for the Caterpillar team today. We are working hard and making gains. We still have a long way to go to get back to where we need to be but we are definitely going in the right directions so that feels good."
Late-Race Accident Ends Top-10 Effort for Bowyer at Atlanta
Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet team finished 36th in the rain-delayed AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway getting caught up in an accident with 82 laps to go. After remnants from Tropical Storm Lee forced NASCAR officials to postpone all on-track activity Sunday night, the green flag finally dropped for the 500-mile marathon around 11 a.m. on Tuesday morning. Bowyer started from outside the front row after posting a solid qualifying effort on Saturday. The four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winner immediately drove his Chevrolet Impala to the point position and led lap one, earning a valuable championship bonus point in the process, before settling into the top five. The Emporia, Kan., native radioed to crew chief Shane Wilson that his red and yellow machine was loose off and tight in the middle of the 24-degree banked corners of the 1.5-mile oval. After staying out under the first caution flag period of the day, the Richard Childress Racing driver worked his way back to the front of the 43-car field again for seven more laps until a competition caution on lap 30 allowed the "Helping Hands" pit crew to make the necessary adjustments to improve handling on the No. 33 Chevrolet. For a majority of the first half of the 325-lap marathon, Bowyer was a mainstay in the top 10 and very happy with the overall setup on his car. On lap 202, rain showers in the area started to become a factor delaying the race for over 25 minutes. Once NASCAR officials were able to dry the track and get back to green-flag racing, another shower came over the Hampton, Ga.,-based facility 20 laps later. On the ensuing restart, the 32-year-old driver started complaining that his race car was very tight and began dropping back through the field. On lap 243, contact with another competitor coming out of turn four sent Bowyer's Chevrolet into the outside retaining wall. The damaged race car was brought back to the garage area where the "Helping Hands" pit crew worked diligently to repair the front nose of the machine and get the RCR driver back on the track to earn points in their quest to qualify for the 2011 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The No. 33 Chevrolet eventually returned to the race track with under 10 laps to go, but was unable to gain any positions and settled for a disappointing 36th-place finish. Bowyer, now 14th in NSCS driver championship point standings, still has an opportunity to qualify for the Chase this weekend at Richmond International Raceway by winning the race with fellow competitor Denny Hamlin finishing 11th or worse.
Start - 2 Finish - 36 Laps Led - 8 Points - 14
CLINT BOWYER QUOTE:
"We had a really good Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet today and got wrecked by another competitor who was racing stupid and not showing any patience. It sounds like we are going to have to win next week to make the Chase for (the NASCAR Sprint Cup) and we run well in Richmond. We had a top-10 car this weekend and I expect us to have one in Richmond. This team isn't going down without a fight."
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
RACE: Good Sam Club 200
TRACK: Atlanta Motor Speedway
DATE: September 2, 2011
Austin Dillon Gains Ground in Championship Point Standings with Sixth-Place Finish at Atlanta
Richard Childress Racing's Austin Dillon and the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet team entered this weekend's Good Sam Club 200 a daunting 29 points behind the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points leader but put together a solid sixth-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway to decrease their point deficit to just 17 markers with eight races remaining this season. Dillon started the 130-lap race from the eighth position, immediately noting to crew chief Danny Stockman that the black No. 3 was extremely loose. Dillon was running seventh when the RCR team took advantage of a lap-18 caution to come down pit road for four Goodyear tires, Sunoco E15 fuel and air pressure adjustments designed to improve the handling of the Chevrolet Silverado. Quick work by the crew allowed Dillon to gain three positions on pit road and he restarted fourth when green-flag racing resumed on lap 42. However, the truck remained loose at the beginning of the run and Dillon lost several positions on the restart, dropping back to eighth before climbing into fifth position by lap 53. The second caution of the race was displayed on lap 58, and once again Dillon pitted for tires and fuel, restarting fourth on lap 63. Although he was shuffled back in the field on the restart, a long green-flag run allowed him to increase his position on the race track. He was scored in fifth position on lap 100, and took the lead briefly on lap 112 to earn a valuable championship bonus point before pitting for fuel and tires under green-flag conditions on lap 114. With just 15 laps to make up ground following his pit stop, Dillon raced as hard as he could in the closing laps, moving up to sixth before the checkered flag was displayed at lap 130. He remains fourth in the point standings but is now just 17 markers outside of the lead.
Start - 8 Finish - 6 Laps Led - 2 Points - 4
AUSTIN DILLON QUOTES: "This is by far one of the hardest tracks for restarts. We lost ground during the first few restarts, but I learned every time and by the last restart I was able to figure it out. The Bass Pro Shops team was on it today. They had fast pit stops during every stop. It's a shame it turned into a fuel mileage race because we were extremely fast before we had to make that last green-flag stop for fuel. This sixth-place finish was exactly what we needed though and I am proud of the team."
Rookie Joey Coulter Earns Top-15 Finish at Atlanta
Joey Coulter and the No. 22 Richard Childress Racing team spent the majority of Friday night running in the top 10 after starting from the 20th position in the Good Sam Club 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway; however, a long green-flag run at the end of the 130-lap affair required one more trip to pit road for fuel and resulted in a 13th-place finish for the Miami Springs, Fla., native. As the sun set over the Hampton, Ga.-based facility, it finally gave race teams and fans alike a repast from the intense Labor Day Weekend temperatures. Coulter took the green flag and quickly began to climb forward through the field, taking over the 17th spot before the first caution of the night. He reported to crew chief Harold Holly that the No. 22 machine was loose at the beginning of the run, but then shifted to the tight-side. Holly instructed the No. 22 crew to change four tires, make air pressure and track bar adjustments and pack the Chevrolet Silverado with fuel. Their spotless service returned Coulter to the track to restart the race in 14th. He quickly went back to work, picking off spots one at a time, and breaking into the top 10 by lap 29. He remained there over the course of the next 80 laps despite battling a persistent tight-handling condition off the corners. With the final caution of the night waving on lap 77, the No. 22 team needed to make one more visit to pit road for fuel. In hopes that a caution period would offer them the opportunity, Holly held off until lap 118 before calling his driver in for service. The RCR team changed right-side tires and added enough fuel to get Coulter to the end of the race. Driving as hard as he could, he climbed to 13th before the checkers were displayed.
Start - 20 Finish - 13 Laps Led - 0 Points - 6
JOEY COULTER QUOTE:
"We finished 13th, but I think everyone on this team agrees we were much better than that tonight. Unfortunately, sometimes these races become fuel mileage gamble, and tonight was one of those cases. The team gave me a fast truck and the guys did a great job on pit road. We are leaving Atlanta with the lead in the Rookie of the Year points, which is really cool! I want to win that title for these guys really bad."
ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards
RACE: Southern Illinois 100
TRACK: DuQuoin State Fairgrounds
DATE: September 5, 2011
Tim George Jr. Earns Second Consecutive Top-10 Finish
Tim George Jr. and the No. 31 Applebee's/Potomac Family Dining Group team rebounded from an 11th-place starting position to finish ninth for the second consecutive week. Cloudy skies and wind greeted the Welcome, N.C.-based team Monday morning for the Southern Illinois 100 at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds. George took the green flag Monday afternoon from the 11th position and quickly jumped into the top 10 on the first lap. He was scored eighth when the first caution of the day was displayed on lap three. Restarting from the eighth position on lap four, George continued picking off positions before entering the top five when the second caution was waved on lap 23. The New York, N.Y., native remained on the racing surface under the ensuing caution moving him to fourth place for the lap 27 restart. The Gere Kennon-led team was called to pit road 10 laps later following another caution period for four fresh Hoosier tires and fuel. The RCR entry restarted 13th on lap 40 as other cars elected not to pit. Unfortunately, George lost the handling in the No. 31 Chevrolet Impala and slipped to the 17th position. Luckily, relief came during the lap-54 caution and Kennon brought the black and red machine to pit road to remove the left rear spring rubber. George rejoined competition in the 17th position for the lap-61 restart. Throughout the next three caution periods, George was able to improve his position to 12th before picking off two more positions with 10 laps to go. The final caution of the day was displayed on lap 98 setting the field for a green-white-checkered finish and George gained one more position before crossing the finish line in ninth increasing his ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards point position to sixth.
Start - 11 Finish - 9 Laps Led - 0 Point Position - 6
TIM GEORGE JR. QUOTE:
"We had a decent run at the final dirt race on the 2011 schedule and moved up to sixth in the point standings. A top 10 finish was expected, and that's what we got. However, we had a top five car. It was difficult to negotiate lapped traffic and once you got out of the racing groove, it was hard to find any grip. All in all, we will take a good points day and focus on Salem Speedway."
Ty Dillon Demonstrates His Dirt Skills with a Second-place Finish at DuQuoin
A promising day for Richard Childress Racing driver Ty Dillon ended just shy of a victory on the one-mile clay oval Monday at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds as he recorded a second-place finish. The No. 41 Hemelgarn/Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma Chevrolet team earned their second consecutive pole and seventh of the season posting a fast time 33.678 seconds on Monday morning. At the start of the race, the track was slicker than practice and Dillon slipped to second after the drop of the green flag. He quickly adjusted to the changing track conditions and took over the top position on lap 22 as the second caution of the day was displayed. Dillon's crew chief Scott Naset instructed the rookie driver to remain on track during the ensuing caution to keep their track position. The Lexington, N.C., native led the field back to green for the lap-26 restart. The third caution flag came on lap 36 for a spin in turn four and the No. 41 Chevrolet Impala was called to pit road for four tires and fuel. With other competitors staying out during the caution, Dillon was shuffled back to 12th for the lap-41 restart. New tires provided the young driver with speed and good handling rocketing him to the eighth position one lap later. Dillon had worked his way up to sixth before the yellow flag was once again displayed on lap 56. He took the green flag four laps later and continued his pursuit to the front of the field overtaking the fourth position on lap 76. As Dillon was battling for the third spot, he got loose coming off turn one and spun. Fortunately, with a great distance between himself and the fifth place competitor, Dillon was able to keep his fourth position. He fought his way into the second spot by lap 94 and with six laps remaining in the 100-lap affair; began reeling the leader in. The last caution of the day came on lap 98 sending the race into overtime for a green-white-checkered finish. Dillon took the green flag and charged after the leader but didn't have enough time to make the pass, resulting in a second-place finish increasing his ARCA Racing Series points lead by five markers and holds a 405-point lead with three races remaining in the 2011 season.
Start - 1 Finish - 2 Laps Led - 17 Points - 1 (leads by 405 points)
TY DILLON QUOTE:
"This was a really awesome race in the beginning; we had such a fast car. We had a great pit stop that put us ahead on that restart, but when the track gets that slick, it makes it really hard to pass. Unfortunately, track position was really important and tires were better when you were out front. Congratulations to Chris Buescher and his team on their win. I'm really happy to have spun out and been able to come back and finish second. It's still a little disappointing that our car so that fast and we didn't win, but Chris and those guys did an awesome job."