Sunday, September 23, 2012

In The Hunt with RCR: Loudon/Kentucky


Bryson's F.U.E.L. sticker on Elliott Sadler's car
Photo credit: Katy Lindamood for Skirt and Scuffs 
For Richard Childress' birthday this weekend, he got a win from grandson Austin Dillon in the Nationwide Series and his driver Elliott Sadler retook the NNS points lead. Not only that, but his younger grandson Ty Dillon finished third and held the NCWTS points lead, and Kevin Harvick did his part and moved up two spots to eighth in the Sprint Cup Chase. All in all, not a bad weekend for the birthday guy. 

RCR also supported Bryson's F.U.E.L. this weekend. Last fall Skirts and Scuffs profiled the organization dedicated to helping families with children battling cancer. Kevin Harvick is little Bryson's favorite driver, but he was still excited that Austin Dillon won. 

Sprint Cup Series 

Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Budweiser Chevy
Start - 16               
Finish - 11                   
Laps Led - 0
Points - 8

If Harvick continues to gain spots at this pace, he'll be in the Chase lead in four weeks. Sure, there are a few teams who might impede his progress, but if the No. 29 Budweiser team busts off a couple of wins, they'll be right there in the thick of things. The car seemed to be loose most of the race and Harvick made a bit of contact with the No. 31 of Jeff Burton early on, then got a bit aggressive on the bumper of the No. 18 of Kyle Busch but a caution came out before Busch could consider retaliation. Harvick raced around teammate Paul Menard for part of the day, but managed not to get tangled up with each other.

Harvick's really going to have to have a better-handling racecar to compete with the Hendrick and Gibbs camps, but this week he did what he needed to do to stay in the hunt.

Jeff Burton, No. 31  Wheaties Chevy
Start- 11                  
Finish- 15    
Laps Led- 0           
Points- 19

Jeff Burton's never been known for his great qualifying runs, so when he reeled off a lap that put him in the 11th starting position, lots of folks perked up because Burton has four wins at the Miracle Mile. However, the most recent of those was in a different car (99) for a different team (Roush) in a different century (2000 was, contrary to popular belief, not the beginning of the 21st century.) So while Burton had a decent run, handling issues prevented him from capitalizing on the track position. He tweeted after the race, "Tough day. We all worked very hard just never had the car like we needed. On to Dover!"

Paul Menard, No. 27 Sylvania / Menards Chevy
Start – 7
Finish –  12
Laps Led –  0
Points – 16

With Shane Wilson substituting for the suspended Slugger Labbe and Clint Almquist acting as car chief, the No. 27 Sylvania / Menards Chevy started in the top 10 for only the sixth time this season,  and the 12th place finish was better than their average by a couple of places. Menard mixed it up with teammates Harvick and Burton a few times but for the most part the race was an uneventful, solid performance by the No. 27 crew. 

Camping World Truck Series


Photo credit: Katy Lindamood for Skirts and Scuffs
The weekend started off on the right foot with two RCR drivers in the top four in the Kentucky 201. Ty Dillon had a fast truck but just couldn't catch James Buescher. His third-place finish is his fifth top five and 14th top ten in 16 races.

Dillon sits atop the points for another week. "I'm really excited about this third-place finish tonight at Kentucky (Speedway)" said Dillon. "Marcus Richmond (crew chief) and the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops team put together a fast truck and worked hard all day. We're really working hard to keep this momentum going throughout the rest of the season. I think we hit the curve at the right time, and I know we can continue to put up a good battle for the championship."

Joey Coulter started from the pole and lead 39 laps, but a four-tire stop on Lap 81 while the other leaders took two or fuel only held Coulter back and once Buescher got the lead, he was gone. Coulter climbed back to finish fourth, his fourth top five of the season. "I had a great truck tonight. I really thought we had the Chevrolet Silverado to win, but during that last run it cooled down a bunch and we just got too tight."

Unfortunately, Tim George Jr.'s night ended in disappointment when he couldn't avoid an accident on Lap 21, and never quite recovered. He finished 18th. George Jr. said, "This was an unfortunate night for the No. 2 Applebee's/Potomac Family Dining Group Chevrolet team. We couldn't avoid being involved in the incident, but the crew worked hard to get us back on track. I know that we all wanted to put together a better night for Applebee's and Richard Childress, especially on his birthday."

Nationwide Series 


Nationwide points leader Elliott Sadler on track
Photo credit: Katy Lindamood for Skirts and Scuffs
RCR dominated the inaugural Kentucky 300. Austin Dillon brought out the broom with his second NNS win at Kentucky Speedway, both of them coming from the pole. Veteran Brendan Gaughan finished an impressive third, and Elliott Sadler regaining the points lead with his fifth-place finish. Sadler led the most laps with 93, Dillon didn't lead the first lap, but after leading twice early in the race he swept past Michael Annett on Lap 151 and held on for the win.

Photo Credit: Katy Lindamood for Skirts and Scuffs
"I have been telling everyone that if we want to have a chance at winning this championship we have to win races, and we came here to Kentucky Speedway and did it," Dillon said. "The AdvoCare pit crew was amazing today and I am proud of them, Danny Stockman and everyone on this No. 3 team for working so hard. We are maximum points racing right now."

Sadler led the most laps with 93, but lost power steering around Lap 145 and on the bumpy Kentucky track that cost him spots. His problems were nothing to those Ricky Stenhouse Jr. faced, though, and Sadler regained the points lead. "Tough break today for the OneMain Financial team." said Sadler. "We lost power steering, and it was locking up for the final part of the race. We had such a great Chevrolet today, and I am so proud of the No. 2 team for how hard they worked all weekend long."

After qualifying sixth, Gaughan followed up with a strong performance in his eighth NNS start of the season, never falling out of the top 15.  His third-place finish gives him his fourth top ten in 2012. "I have to thank Ernie Cope (crew chief), the No. 33 team and everyone at Richard Childress Racing for giving me great equipment each time I'm in the car," Gaughan said. "We had an awesome Chevrolet today and I think our result is proof of that. RCR is a top notch organization and I can't say enough how much I enjoy driving for this team."

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