RCR Post Race Report — Pocono 400 presented by #NASCAR

[media-credit name=”poconoraceway.com” align=”alignright” width=”207″][/media-credit]NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

RACE: Pocono 400 presented by #NASCAR

TRACK: Pocono Raceway

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Race Highlights:

Richard Childress Racing teammates finished ninth (Paul Menard), 14th (Kevin Harvick) and 15th (Jeff Burton). According to NASCAR Loop Data Statistics, Menard maintained the fifth-best average running position of 7.894, spending 159 out of 160 laps (99.4 percent) in the top 15. Menard ranked eighth in the Loop Data category Driver Rating with a 100.3, and was fifth-fastest on restarts with an average speed of 158.459 mph. Harvick ranked fourth in the Closers category, improving four positions in the last 10 percent (16 laps) of the race. Harvick made 90 green-flag passes, the sixth-most of any driver according to NASCAR’s Loop Data statistics. Burton spent 98 laps running in the top 15, tenth-most in the 43-car field. Burton made 76 green-flag passes during the 160-lap event, 37 while running in the top 15. Joey Logano won the Pocono 400 presented by #NASCAR, and was followed to the checkered flag by Mark Martin, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin. The next NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is the Quicken Loans 400 on Sunday, June 17, televised live on TNT and broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio beginning at 12 p.m. Eastern Time.

Paul Menard and the No. 27 Sylvania/Menards Team Earn Ninth-Place Finish at Pocono Raceway

Paul Menard took the green flag in the third position and drove the Sylvania/Menards Chevrolet to a ninth-place finish in the Pocono 400 presented by #NASCAR, marking his best career result at Pocono Raceway. The Eau Claire, Wis., native competed in the top 10 for the first half of the 160-lap event at the 2.5-mile triangular-shaped speedway, reporting that a tight-handling condition had developed as the run progressed. Crew chief Slugger Labbe instructed the Sylvania/Menards crew to make slight air pressure changes and a track bar adjustment during routine green-flag and caution period pit stops. Pit strategy played a large part in the 400-mile affair, and the Labbe-led team closely monitored fuel mileage. As the tight-handling condition persisted in the center of the turns, Menard fell back to the 12th position on lap xx. He quickly climbed back into the top 10 and late-race cautions on laps 136 and 148 offered relief to the threat of the No. 27 Chevrolet running out of fuel. Able to drive at full speed, Menard advanced to the ninth position where he took the checkered flag, earning his best finish at the Long Pond, Pa.-based facility. With the top-10 finish, Menard gained two positions and now sits 13th in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings, 27 points out of the final Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup spot.

Start – 3 Finish – 9 Laps Led – 0 Points – 13

PAUL MENARD QUOTE:

“The Sylvania/Menards team was on top of it today, making adjustments on the car and turning fast pit stops. The car fired off pretty good and then would get tight in the center of the turns as the run progressed. With each pit stop, it got better and better. The team did a great job getting the car set up for qualifying and it paid off. Starting up front was the key; track position is so important here. We learned a lot today and during the test, and I want to thank the guys for all of their hard work this week.”

Kevin Harvick and the Rheem Team Finish 14th at Pocono Raceway

Kevin Harvick and Richard Childress Racing’s No. 29 Rheem team finished 14th at Pocono Raceway Sunday afternoon after overcoming a pit road penalty and battling a tight-handling condition. Harvick started the 160-lap affair from the 21st position and soon alerted his crew the Rheem Chevrolet’s handling was too tight. Harvick maintained a position within the top 15 until lap 42 when he was issued a penalty by NASCAR officials during a scheduled green-flag pit stop, for speeding on the exit of pit road. Per NASCAR rules, the RCR driver brought the Rheem Chevrolet back onto pit road for a “pass through” penalty, dropping the No. 29 Chevrolet back to the 26th position. Back on track, the Bakersfield, Calif., native began to work his way toward the front of the field, settling into the top 10 by lap 84. As the race continued, Harvick informed the crew the Rheem Chevrolet was still tight in all areas of the 2.5-mile triangle-shaped track. Throughout the course of several scheduled pit stops, the Shane Wilson-led team worked to alleviate the challenging handling condition the car developed. As the laps wound down, Harvick continued to the battle handling issues but was able to maintain a position within the top 15, crossing the finish line 14th. Harvick improved one position, to sixth, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings, 53 markers out of the lead, after the event at the Long Pond, Pa.-based facility.

Start – 21 Finish – 14 Laps Led – 0 Points – 6

KEVIN HARVICK QUOTE:

“This was not the finish I was hoping for today. The Rheem crew worked hard all day, we just couldn’t catch a break all week at Pocono Raceway. We may not have done as well as we would have liked, but we need to move forward and begin to focus on next week’s race at Michigan (International Speedway).”

Burton Survives Back-to-Back Penalties and Scores Top-15 Finish at Pocono Raceway

Jeff Burton and the No. 31 Armed Forces Foundation Chevrolet team survived two penalties and brought home a top-15 finish in the Pocono 400 presented by #NASCAR at Pocono Raceway. After qualifying the red, white and blue No. 31 Chevrolet in the 20th position for the 400-mile affair, the South Boston, Va., native quickly climbed into the top 15 by lap 30 and eventually cracked the top 10 by lap 50. The third caution flag of the event was displayed on lap 67 and the 44-year-old veteran driver brought his Richard Childress Racing machine down pit road for four fresh Goodyear tires and Sunoco Green E15 fuel. Upon completion of the routine pit stop, NASCAR officials forced Burton to the tail end of the field, as the Richard Childress Racing veteran was clocked for speeding upon exit of pit road, receiving one of 22 pit road speeding penalties throughout the 160-lap event. Burton reluctantly dropped back to the tail end of the field to serve the penalty as the green flag waved for the ensuing restart on lap 72. However, according to NASCAR officials, Burton was supposed to restart behind the “wave around” cars that stayed out under that specific caution-flag period, even though they didn’t catch up to the rest of the field prior to the restart. Another penalty was assessed to the No. 31 team, much to the chagrin of the 21-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winner. After serving the “pass through” pit road penalty, the Armed Forces Foundation team received a lucky break as the caution flag was displayed for debris, keeping them on the lead lap in the 18th position. A confused and frustrated Burton regained his composure and climbed his way back into the top 15 10 laps later. Fighting a tight-handling condition on the No. 31 Chevrolet, the RCR driver survived several exciting restarts on the newly resurfaced 2.5-mile triangular-shaped track and managed to maintain position for the remainder of the event, finishing in the 15th position. Burton remains 18th in Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.

Start – 20 Finish – 15 Laps Led – 0 Points – 18

JEFF BURTON QUOTE:

“This team is a resilient bunch. We fought back from two costly penalties and managed a top-15 finish. I’ll be interested to talk to the NASCAR officials about the penalties. Obviously, something went wrong there. We definitely had speed in the car at times and are improving every week. It was also great to show off the colors of the Armed Forces Foundation and meet some of our troops at the track. I am very proud to be affiliated with such a great organization.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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