PIR notebook: RCR drivers take owner's philosophy to heart - East Valley Tribune: Sports

PIR notebook: RCR drivers take owner's philosophy to heart

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Posted: Saturday, April 12, 2008 12:42 am | Updated: 10:54 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Richard Childress Racing's trademark over the years in NASCAR has been reliability.

http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/page/flash?h=600&w=614&file=nascar/nascar.swf',620,700);"> INTERACTIVE: 20 years of memorable moments at PIR

Richard Childress Racing's trademark over the years in NASCAR has been reliability.

http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/page/flash?h=600&w=614&file=nascar/nascar.swf',620,700);"> INTERACTIVE: 20 years of memorable moments at PIR

His cars finish races, and you can't win championships without running all of the laps and getting to the checkered flag, he preaches.

His ace driver several years back, Dale Earnhardt, was the epitome of that philosophy, winning championships with old reliable No. 3.

Childress' current corral of drivers also is following suit. Jeff Burton has completed all 2,387 laps in seven races this season, and he leads the Sprint Cup points standings. Kevin Harvick has finished all but one lap so far and he's second in the points. Clint Bowyer has driven in all but two laps and he's 11th in the points.

"He believes that we have to run every lap," Burton said of Childress. "If we don't run a lap, he gets very frustrated with that. If we have mechanical problems, that really bothers him."

At the heart and soul of RCR's reliability, is Childress' engine program.

"The engine department has done an exceptional job of making sure we have good horsepower, but making sure it will last throughout the weekend and throughout the race," Bowyer said. "You want to push the envelope as much as you can, but Richard has always been conservative in that aspect that making sure (the engine's) going to live throughout the race."

RCR has just one victory this season, and that came from Burton in the Food City 500 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway on March 16. Second and third? Harvick and Bowyer.

The three-car organization isn't exactly off to a season like Hendrick Motorsports had in 2007 (18 wins in 36 races), but Harvick believes that RCR could become NASCAR's top dog in the garage.

"They have been before," Harvick said with a smile, in reference to Earnhardt's championship years. "I don't see why we can't do that. ... (RCR has) always concentrated on being very consistent and finishing races and running laps."

CUP PRACTICE

Two-time defending Cup champion Jimmie Johnson was fastest in Friday's first practice session with a lap of 27.630 seconds (130.293 mph). Mark Martin topped the charts with a lap of 27.843 seconds (129.296 mph) in the final session.

MAKE-A-WISH MILESTONE

Four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon was honored at PIR by the Make-A-Wish Foundation for surpassing the 200 mark in the number of children with life-threatening medical conditions that he has visited as part of the Make-A-Wish program. "It's humbling to know that these kids choose to spend time with me," said Gordon, who has been working with the program since 1995.

PAPER OR PLASTIC?

Chandler-based Bashas' Supermarkets has signed on for another three years as title sponsor of PIR's spring Nationwide Series race. Track executives are still on the hunt for a title sponsor for the upcoming Nationwide race in November.

PIT STOPS

Reserved grandstand seating, as well as hillside tickets remain available for today's Subway Fresh Fit 500, PIR president Bryan R. Sperber said. ... Heavyweight boxing legend Muhammad Ali watched Friday night's Nationwide Series race from PIR's Octane Lounge. ... 2003 NASCAR Cup champion Matt Kenseth will be making his 300th career Cup start today.

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