Sunday, April 15, 2012

In The Hunt with RCR: Texas


Of the RCR Sprint Cup team, only Kevin Harvick came out of the Lone Star State with a decent finish, and even that could have been better. The No. 29 Budweiser Chevy ran as high as second but wound up finishing ninth. Paul Menard in the No. 27 Quaker State/Menard’s car struggled all night, ending up just inside the top twenty at 18th. Jeff Burton’s pit stop woes confined the No. 31 Cat team to a 29th-place finish. Certainly the Cup teams did not have the night they’d hoped to have given the performance of the Nationwide teams on Friday night.

Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Budweiser
Start: 15
Finish: 9 
Points: 5th (no change)

With a ninth-place start, his best at TMS since the fall of 2007, Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 team hoped to have their best finish in years, too, but long green-flag runs meant little time on pit stops to adjust on what was first a tight and later a loose race car. Though Harvick raced up to second position, a lug-nut issue on one of the only two cautions of the night cost them seven spots which were difficult to make up with the windy conditions on the track. DeLana Harvick tweeted, “The wind is insane. I can hardly see anything, my hair keeps flying in my the cars don't feel so great...” and later, “@KevinHarvick reporting he's starting to get loose. Not sure how in the hell he'd know with all this wind.#guessthatswhyhegetsthebigbucks

Late in the race Harvick was informed he’d likely be short on fuel, so he went into conservation mode. DeLana tweeted, “@KevinHarvick radioed @CupCrewChief and told him he'd like to report he's saving fuel but he's sideways...”

Sure enough the car ran out of fuel just after the he took the checkered flag. Still Harvick said, “The Budweiser Chevrolet started off strong tonight, but we lost a lot of ground on the second (pit) stop. We fought the handling back in traffic after that and the car got too loose. There at the end it started to get really loose in (Turn) three. All in all, this is better than I’ve been (at Texas) lately, so we’ll take that and work on what we need to improve for next time.”

Paul Menard, No. 27 Quaker State / Menards
Start: 11 
Finish: 18 
Point Standings: 13 (up one)

After scoring the pole and a 2nd place finish in the Nationwide race, Paul Menard said that not much from the race would translate from the NNS cars to the Cup cars and it seems he was right because while he started 11th and worked up to 8th, the long green runs made adjustment to a loose car difficult and he slid back through the field, winding up 18th on the night.
Menard said, “This was not the night we were hoping for and to say we are disappointed is an understatement – especially since we left here with a top-five finish last year. We struggled with handling throughout the entire race. The long green-flag runs spread the field out and regaining track position with a loose-handling car was nearly impossible. We have a lot of notes to review before we come back to Texas (Motor Speedway) in November. Now, we’ll turn our focus to next week’s race at Kansas Speedway.”

Jeff Burton, No. 31 Cat
Start: 24
Finish: 29
Point Standings: 16 (down one) 

Jeff Burton and the No. 31 Cat team faced the same handling issues almost every other car had and just like all the other teams had limited time to make adjustments because of the green-flag stops. However, what hurt the team the most was a loose lug nut from the Lap 230 pit stop that required multiple green-flag stops to correct the issue. Burton fought to regain position and ended 29th on the night.


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