RCR Post Race Report — Michigan 400

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

RACE: Michigan 400

TRACK: Michigan International Speedway

American Muscle

Race Highlights:

Richard Childress Racing teammates finished 10th (Kevin Harvick), 21st (Jeff Burton), 22nd (Paul Menard) and 24th (Austin Dillon). According to NASCAR’s Loop Data Statistics, Harvick made 74 green-flag passes and spent 90 laps running in the Top 15 while maintaining a 16.675 Average Running Position throughout the race. According to NASCAR’s Loop Data Statistics, Burton made 90 Green-Flag passes ranking him fourth in the category. According to NASCAR Loop Data Statistics, Menard logged three of the Fastest Laps Run out of 153 green-flag circuits. Menard ranked 10th in the Loop Data category Laps in the Top 15 (125 laps) while maintaining an average position of 15.730. Dillon posted a top-25 finish in his second career Sprint Cup Series start and his first at Michigan International Speedway. Dillon made 56 green-flag passes during the 200-lap event. Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Michigan 400, and was followed to the checkered flag by Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle and Jimmie Johnson. The next NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is the Sonoma 350 on Sunday, June 24, televised live on TNT and broadcast live on the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio beginning at 2 p.m. Eastern Time.

Fuel Mileage Thwarts Top-15 Finish for No. 27 Duracell/Menards Team in Michigan

En route to a top-15 finish at Michigan International Speedway, Paul Menard ran out of fuel two laps shy of the checkered flag, relegating the No. 27 Duracell/Menards Chevrolet team to a 22nd-place result. Menard started the 200-lap NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race from the 18th position and quickly drove into the top 15, where he was a mainstay for the majority of the event. In the early portion of the race the Eau Claire, Wis., native reported that the No. 27 Chevrolet had a loose-handling condition and crew chief Slugger Labbe called for air pressure and chassis adjustments during pit stops under the lap-25 and lap-50 competition cautions. The loose condition persisted throughout the race, especially early in a run, and the Richard Childress Racing driver fell as far back as 28th in the running order before moving up to 22nd. The Duracell/Menards crew made another chassis adjustment while under caution on lap 82 in an effort to tighten up the car’s handling. The two-tire pit stop catapulted Menard to the 12th position for the restart on lap 86. For the next 58 laps the 2011 Brickyard 400 winner remained in the top 15 until sacrificing track position while saving fuel on lap 142. The final pit stop of the day was made under green-flag conditions and Menard competed between the 14th and 16th positions until lap 198, when he radioed to the team that the No. 27 machine was out of fuel. Unable to make it the final two laps, Menard coasted to pit road where the neon Chevrolet received a splash of fuel and took the checkered flag in the 22nd position

Start – 18 Finish – 22 Laps Led – 0 Points – 14


“This certainly was an interesting weekend. We were definitely a lot looser on the new left-side tires that Goodyear brought us on Saturday morning, but we were on our way to a top-15 finish until we ran out of fuel. We’ll learn from what happened and move forward to Sonoma next weekend.”

Kevin Harvick Brings Home a Hard Fought Top-10 Finish at Michigan International Speedway

Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Budweiser Folds of Honor Chevrolet team took home a 10th-place finish in Sunday’s rain-delayed event at Michigan International Speedway working to overcome a loose-handling condition throughout the event. The Bakersfield, Calif., native started the 400-mile race from the second position and ran within the top 10 until the first competition caution period when Harvick reported to crew chief Shane Wilson that his red, white and blue Chevrolet needed to be tightened up, prompting the team to pit for major chassis adjustments. Following their first pit stop, Harvick was called back down pit road as the team noticed that the dust cap was missing from the left-front hub and the issue needed to be fixed before going to back to green. As green-flag racing resumed, Harvick was scored in the 39th position but worked his way back into the top 20 by lap 57. The Richard Childress Racing driver maintained a position in the top 20 until the caution flag was displayed at lap 120 in the middle of green-flag pit stops, positioning Harvick one lap down to the leader. Harvick received the wave around prior to the restart placing him in the 16th position as the field returned to full speed. As laps wound down, Harvick continued to work his way through the field, taking over the 10th position before the checkered flag was displayed. Harvick remains sixth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver point championship standings, 61 points behind the leader.

Start – 2 Finish – 10 Laps Led – 0 Points – 6


“It wasn’t a pretty day, but we’ll take it. The Budweiser Folds of Honor Chevrolet was just too loose all day long, but the crew worked hard and we were able to pull out a 10th-place finish.”

Jeff Burton Finishes 21st at Michigan International Speedway

Jeff Burton and the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet team brought home a 21st-place finish Sunday afternoon after battling a tight-handling condition during the rain-delayed event at Michigan International Speedway. Burton started the 200-lap race from the 33rd position, and quickly began working toward the front of the field moving into the 18th position after the first lap. During the early portion of the race, the South Boston, Va., native maintained a position within the top 20 but reported to crew chief Drew Blickensderfer that the Caterpillar Chevrolet was becoming increasingly tight during the run. The No. 31 Richard Childress Racing crew worked to alleviate the handling issue through the course of several scheduled pit stops. The persistent condition continued as final green-flag pit stops began to cycle through the field. Burton stayed on track to lead a lap before coming onto pit road at lap 171 for right-side tires and fuel. The RCR veteran driver returned to the track in the 25th position, and picked up four positions before crossing the finish line. Burton now sits 21st in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.

Start – 33 Finish – 21 Laps Led – 1 Points – 21


“This was a tough day for the No. 31 Caterpillar team. We couldn’t get the handling of the car where we wanted; it just kept getting tighter as the race went on. Drew (Blickensderfer, crew chief) and the entire crew worked hard today, I wish we had a better finish to show for it.”

Austin Dillon Earns a 24th-place Finish in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Michigan International Speedway

In his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start of the 2012 season and the second of his career, Austin Dillon posted lap times consistent with the top 10 competitors and was running in the top 15 before a broken radio caused him to fall one lap down to the race leader and finish 24th. Dillon took the green flag in Richard Childress Racing’s No. 33 American Ethanol Chevrolet from the 22nd position and noted to crew chief Gil Martin soon after the start of the race that his Chevrolet was very comfortable. Dillon raced his way into the top 15 before the race’s halfway point and was running 13th when he made his first green-flag pit stop of the race at lap 116, taking four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. The caution flag was displayed before green-flag pit stops cycled through the field, causing Dillon and all but four competitors to fall one lap down to the race leader on lap 121. While most drivers were able to take the “wave around” and rejoin the lead lap cars, Dillon was forced to make an additional trip down pit road to change radios, as he had lost all communication with his team shortly after his green-flag pit stop. Dillon pitted a second time during the caution to top off his black and green Chevrolet with fuel and restarted the race one lap down in the 30th position at the tail end of the longest line. Dillon raced into a position to earn the Lucky Dog award, but never got the opportunity to rejoin the lead lap cars due to a long green-flag run in the closing stages of the race. Although he was not able to regain his lap, Dillon posted lap times consistent with the top 10 competitors in the final laps of the race and advanced to the 24th position before taking the checkered flag.

Start – 22 Finish – 24 Laps Led – 0 Points – N/A

AUSTIN DILLON QUOTE: “We had a really strong American Ethanol Chevrolet during the race today. Gil Martin did an awesome job knowing what I needed in the car as a rookie. He made the car tight enough at the beginning of the race for me. The radio in the car broke and it caused us to go one lap down. If it wasn’t for that, we would have had a chance at a top 15 finish.”

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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