Tuesday, October 2, 2012

In The Hunt with RCR: Dover


During the Richard Childress Media Day on Sept. 25, Childress spoke with Chocolate Myers of SiriusXM's Tradin' Paint, who is a longtime RCR employee. Childress acknowledged that their cars weren't as good as they should be and said he'd done some hiring and indicated that some changes would be occurring, though he didn't specify whether they would be this season, in the off-season, or next season. Whatever those changes are, it's doubtful they'll come soon enough to save Kevin Harvick's title run, but perhaps they can salvage some of Jeff Burton's pride and maintain the gains that Paul Menard has made over the last season.

Sprint Cup 

Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Budweiser Chevy
Start - 13  
Finish - 13              
Laps Led - 0
Points - 9

Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 team's performance demonstrated just how far the team has fallen through the season. In 2011 by the second visit to Dover he had notched four wins. So far this season he's scored four top fives, but the closest he's come to victory lane is a pair of seconds...the last of which came at the first Dover run in June. Somehow he's still in the Chase, not mathematically eliminated yet, but unless something changes quickly and radically, Harvick's championship dreams will have to wait another year.

After the AAA 400, Harvick acknowledged, “Our car wasn't very good. We got caught with that one caution and that kind of got us a couple of laps behind. We made some good adjustments and got it back to where we needed to, just couldn't make up those two laps.”

Paul Menard, No. 27 Menards/CertainTeed Chevrolet
Start – 19
Finish –  22
Laps Led –  0
Points – 16

What could Paul Menard have done this season had his equipment been at the level his team owner would like it to be? He had a bad day at Dover because like all but a handful of teams, the No. 27 was exiting pit road from a green flag stop when a caution came out and changed the complexion of the race. The rest of the day all the handling problems compounded an already difficult run. Menard finished 22nd, and sits 16th in points.

“This was definitely not the finish we hoped for, but the CertainTeed/Menards team never gave up," Menard said. "We just couldn't catch a break today. Bad timing with cautions coming out while we were on pit road just put us further behind. We made good adjustments and the pit crew did a great job on pit road, but with long green-flag runs at Dover (International Speedway), it is difficult to make up ground.”

Jeff Burton, No. 31  Caterpillar Chevy
Start- 39
Finish- 27
Laps Led- 0           
Points- 19

Jeff Burton has to be ready for this season to be over. Between the worst handling issues of the three RCR teams and getting caught by untimely cautions, Burton and the No. 31 team scratched and clawed up from 39th to 27th. "This was a tough day for the No. 31 Caterpillar team," said Burton. "We struggled to find the right setup all weekend to get the speed we needed, and then couldn't catch a break during the race. I have to give the Caterpillar team credit; they never gave up and kept working hard through all of the challenges. We’ll regroup this week and see what we can make happen next weekend at Talladega.”

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