Posted on: March 7, 2012 7:16 pm
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Posted on: March 7, 2012 7:09 pm
By Pete Pistone
Regan Smith and Paul Menard were uninjured in a road accident while in Colorado Wednesday morning.
The two Sprint Cup Series drivers, Smith’s wife Megan and a friend were in a Chevy Silverado driving to a ski slope when the accident happened at approximately 8:45 a.m..
The foursome escaped injury after the vehicle being driven by Smith slid through a patch of ice, skidded off the road and into several trees.
Both Smith and Menard will compete in Sunday's Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Posted on: March 4, 2012 4:54 pm
Posted by Pete Pistone
A three car melee in the first half of Sunday's Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway involved A.J. Allmendinger, Paul Menard and Jamie McMurray:
Posted on: February 23, 2012 6:18 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 7:40 pm
By Pete Pistone
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Paul Menard has been in two races so far this Speedweeks and involved in crashes both times.
The Richard Childress Racing driver followed up his Budweiser Shootout accident with getting swept up in another big wreck Thursday in the Gatorade Duel at Daytona and thinks the new rules to encourage pack drafting are the culprit.
"Just a product of this hybrid tandem-pack racing," Menard said after Thursday's incident with David Gilliland and Juan Pablo Montoya. "All the rule changes are just making a big mess of what was a pretty good race. I’m hoping to survive on Sunday.
“If I say my mind right now; NASCAR is trying to dictate physics. Physics says two cars are going to push and they’re trying to make rule changes to keep us from doing it, so it is kind of a hybrid of pack racing and tandem racing. It is causing a pretty unsafe situation.”
Posted on: January 9, 2012 3:01 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2012 4:10 pm
By Pete Pistone
The 2011 season didn’t go exactly as Richard Childress Racing had hoped.
After Kevin Harvick came close to winning the 2010 Sprint Cup championship, RCR was poised to make a string run at the title in the following campaign.
But despite enjoying six overall trips to victory lane, the Childress camp came up short of its goals for the season.
Only Harvick made the Chase of the four RCR drivers and although he won four times he finished third in the point standings for a second straight campaign.
We want to race for a championship,” Harvick said. “With the performance we had through the year, it was a decent season. But we need to make things better for next year as we move through the winter.”
Harvick’s early season success helped solidify his reputation as “The Closer” as he won two races with dramatic late lap moves.
He passed Jimmie Johnson on the last lap for the lead and the win at Auto Club Speedway in March and then capitalized on others running out of fuel on the final lap to win May’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
However despite winning for the fourth time in the regular season finale at Richmond to secure the second seed in the Chase, Harvick was not able to mount a charge for the championship and wound up 58 points behind eventual champ Tony Stewart.
Harvick’s three other teammates failed to qualify for the playoffs but did have some success of their own during the course of the season.
Paul Menard scored his first career Sprint Cup Series victory with a dramatic win in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The dramatic win ended a long quest by the Menard family to win at the famed track including father John’s days as an Indy Car team owner.
“1989 I think was my first year here,” Menard said after the win. “I spent 14, 15 years in a row just hanging out in the infield being a fan. In 2007, I got to race here. It was definitely the highlight of my career up until that point. Here we are in victory lane. It's unbelievable.”
Menard was in the hunt for a Chase wild card berth but missed the playoff race despite his best career Cup season that included a seventeenth place finish in the standings.
Clint Bowyer ended his tenure at RCR missing out on the Chase but was able to finish the year with a strong run behind the wheel of the No. 33 Chevrolet.
Bowyer picked up a checkered flag at October’s Talladega race narrowly edging out teammate Jeff Burton for the victory.
“He worked so well with me all day long,” Bowyer said of Burton. “You hate that it comes down to that. It is what it is. You owe it to your team, to your sponsors to go out and win the race.”
Bowyer ended up 13<sup>th</sup> in the final standings.
Burton struggled in the first half of the year until team owner Childress inserted Luke Lambert as interim crew chief to replace long-time RCR employee Todd Berrier.
He finished a disappointing 20<sup>th</sup> in the standings but a series of Top 10 runs to end the year has Burton feeling better about the future.
“The performance this year was not up to par but our string of Top 10 finishes toward the end of the season is a promising feeling going into next season," he said.
It will be a new-look RCR squad heading into 2012 starting with a contraction of race teams.
Childress will field a three-car stable for the new campaign with Bowyer departing for Michael Waltrip Racing and the No. 33 ride shut down due to the lack of sponsorship.
While disappointed he wasn’t able to find funding to keep the car on the track in a full-time capacity, Childress is still bullish on his team’s strength for the coming season.
"Right now we're looking at three Cup cars…," said Childress, who may field a fourth entry in a handful of races for grandson and truck champion Austin Dillon. "Who knows what may come up between now and then. I've had offers to race people and race drivers and had another full sponsorship with a driver.
"I just want to make sure it's the right move when we make it. So we're still as of right now, we're three Cup teams."
Harvick returns to the No. 29 Chevrolet but with a new crew chief after Gil Martin was replaced by Shane Wilson.
Harvick and Wilson have a long history of working together dating back to their Nationwide Series success which both feel will be beneficial to improving the performance of the Cup effort this season.
"Shane is a good friend of mine, and we had a lot of success together in the NASCAR Nationwide Series," Harvick said. "He has a lot of experience now in the Sprint Cup Series, and I look forward to working with him again."
Menard’s team returns intact with veteran crew chief Slugger Labbe calling the shots. Last year’s success and first win has the former Daytona 50 winner feeling good about what lies ahead in season number two with RCR’s No. 27 Chevy.
“Paul and I have worked together now for a number of years,” said Labbe of the time the duo spent at Richard Petty Motorsports before migrating to RCR. “Our relationship is solid and we understand one another better than ever which is a key. We have a solid race team behind us and know what we accomplished last season was only the beginning for this group.”
Finally Burton comes back in the Caterpillar No. 31 ride with yet another new crew chief in Drew Blickensderfer, who worked with David Ragan at Roush Fenway Racing last season.
The highly-touted crew chief and veteran driver Burton both believe they can continue the progress the team made at the tail-end of last season to have a much better 2012.
“We're putting ourselves in position to have fast enough race cars, and have the right group assembled,” Burton said of his team. “I feel like we're in that process as far as getting back to where we can be competitive, and putting ourselves in position to win races. It doesn't happen overnight. But yeah, I do feel like we're building that."
Sizing down to three cars isn’t the worst thing for RCR, which will be able to concentrate its efforts in a more focused matter. But with two of the trio sporting new driver-crew chief combos, there may be some initial growing pains. Equipment-wise RCR is one of the sport’s powerhouses and its engine program was again stellar last season. Horsepower won’t be an issue again in 2012. Better consistency in the Chase for Harvick and whether Burton can bounce back while Menard continues to improve will be the main questions around RCR in the coming season.
Posted on: November 11, 2011 8:11 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2011 8:27 pm
By Pete Pistone
KOBALT TOOLS 500 FINAL PRACTICE
AVONDALE, Ariz. - Paul Menard led a blistering final Sprint Cup Series practice at Phoenix International Raceway on Friday.
Menard's lap of 141.121 mph was one of 35 times to beat the old track qualifying record at the newly repaved and reconfigured PIR.
Carl Edwards rebounded from his first practice woes to turn the second quickest lap of the session with Regan Smith, Brian Vickers and Kyle Busch - who will start the race on Sunday at the rear of the field after an engine change Friday morning - rounding out the fast five.
Qualifying to set the field for Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500 is slated for Saturday morning.
Posted on: October 7, 2011 2:44 pm
Edited on: October 7, 2011 5:25 pm
By Pete Pistone
HOLLYWOOD CASINO 400 PRACTICE ONE
KANSAS CITY, Kan. - Paul Menard led the way in Friday's first Sprint Cup Series practice session at Kansas Speedway.
Menard turned a lap of 174.059 mph in his Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet to top the weekend's opening practice in preparation for Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400.
Menard's RCR teammate Clint Bowyer was second with Jeff Gordon, David Reutimann and Matt Kenseth rounding out the fast five.
Sprint Cup Series qualifying is set for 5:10 p.m. ET Friday afternoon.
Posted on: September 30, 2011 12:59 pm
By Pete Pistone
AAA 400 FIRST PRACTICE SPEEDS
Paul Menard led the way in Friday's initial practice session for the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway. The Richard Childress Racing driver topped the speed charts with a lap of 156.027 as Sprint Cup team dial their cars in for the third race of the Chase.
Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch rounded out the fast five.
Sprint Cup teams will have another practice session Friday afternoon with qualifying set for Saturday.