MENARD BRINGS HOME 24th-PLACE FINISH IN ANNUAL NIGHT RACE AT BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY BRISTOL, Tenn. (August 22, 2009) -- After starting the race from the 39th position, Paul Menard and the No. 98 PEAK / Menards team battled 500 laps at Bristol...
MENARD BRINGS HOME 24th-PLACE FINISH IN ANNUAL NIGHT RACE AT BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY
BRISTOL, Tenn. (August 22, 2009) -- After starting the race from the 39th position, Paul Menard and the No. 98 PEAK / Menards team battled 500 laps at Bristol Motor Speedway to finish 24th. After going down two laps early into the race, the team utilized pit strategy and hard driving to get back a lap and continue their move up the leaderboard.
After posting his fourth top-10 finish of the season in the Nationwide Series last night at Bristol Motor Speedway, Menard returned to the .533-mile speedway for Saturday night's Sharpie 500. The team practiced twice on Friday afternoon and qualified 39th for the 500-lap shootout.
Pole winner Mark Martin led the 43-car field to the green flag before a sellout crowd of 160,000 fans at Bristol Motor Speedway. Menard, who started 39th, quickly radioed into crew chief Larry Carter that the car's handling was really tight in the center of the corner.
With an early long green flag run, Menard was lapped on lap 46 by Martin. After going down a lap, the team used the caution on lap 63 as a chance to regroup and make adjustments to Menard's Ford Fusion that would help him work his way better through traffic. During the pit stop, the No. 98 PEAK / Menards pit crew changed four tires, added two cans of fuel, and made both a rubber and track bar adjustment to their Ford Fusion.
During the next green flag run, Menard was caught by the leader, putting him two laps down. When the next caution flag flew, Carter told Menard to stay on the track, which would earn him one lap back as the remaining cars were waved around the pace car. Menard restarted in the 36th position as the field was shown the green flag once again.
With the next caution flag coming out on lap 164, Menard was able to come down pit road for another set of tires and adjustments. During the stop the team made both an air pressure and wedge adjustment to help with the handling of Menard's Ford Fusion. Following the pit stop, Menard noted the changes were helping the car on the short run, but they were losing something in the longer runs.
Carter and the crew continued to make changes to the No. 98 PEAK / Menards Ford Fusion over the course of the night. And with the right changes, Menard began to move up the leaderboard.
For the fifth race weekend in a row, rain once again became a factor in the late stages of the evening. With only 30 laps remaining, rain showers moved over the track. A few crew chiefs and teams gambled that the rain would remain in the area, but lost this week. The racing resumed with a short run to the end. Through a good pit call at the end of the race to pit for tires, Menard was able to pick up a handful of positions late in the race to finish the night in the 24th position.
"I have to say that we made the right adjustments to our No. 98 PEAK / Menards Ford Fusion as the night went on," said Menard following the race. "If we could have started the race a little bit better and not gone down those laps, I think we would have been in a lot better spot at the end of race. We made the right adjustments throughout the race to make our car work better for us, but should have finished better than what we ended up on the board."
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will enjoy a weekend off next weekend, while Menard and his No. 98 Richmond / Menards team will travel to Canada for the Nationwide Series race on Sunday afternoon. ESPN2 television and MRN radio affiliates will carry the live Nationwide Series race broadcast beginning at 2:00 p.m. (EST).
Pep Boys Auto 500
Atlanta Motor Speedway (1.5-mile speedway)
Sunday, September 6, 2009