MENARD FINISHES 29TH IN RAIN-SHORTENED, RAIN-DELAYED COCA-COLA 600 CONCORD, N.C. (May 25, 2009) -- The Coca-Cola 600 has traditional been the longest race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season, not because of time, but because of distance. This ...
MENARD FINISHES 29TH IN RAIN-SHORTENED, RAIN-DELAYED COCA-COLA 600
CONCORD, N.C. (May 25, 2009) -- The Coca-Cola 600 has traditional been the longest race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season, not because of time, but because of distance. This afternoon's race was officially called for rain just over 24 hours after its original start time. After persistent rain on Sunday forced the race to run Monday afternoon, the fans loaded back into Charlotte Motor Speedway in hopes of 600 miles of Sprint Cup racing. Mother Nature had another plan -- to delay the race three times for rain and then never let up as NASCAR officials were forced to end the race early and leave the No. 98 Johns Manville / Menards team with a disappointing 29th-place finish.
After practice and qualifying on Thursday afternoon, the NASCAR teams enjoyed a day away from the track on Friday. Back at it on Saturday afternoon for two practices, the No. 98 Menards team felt solid about entering the race on Sunday night.
All 43 drivers loaded into their cars just a little before Noon on Memorial Day ready to face 600 miles of racing at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Menard, who started from the 31st position, noted early the car was a bit too free off the corners. As clouds loomed above the 1.5-mile all morning, the first drops of rain began just six laps into competition. NASCAR displayed the caution flag, which allowed teams the chance to come down pit road. Larry Carter told Menard to stay out, which gained the team four positions, moving them up to 30th.
The racing continued again at lap 10, but was short lived after debris was spotted in turn two on lap 15. This time, the No. 98 came down pit road for four tires and a track bar adjustment. Upon leaving pit road, the No. 98 was scored in the 33rd position.
After a competition caution on lap 40, the green flag racing continued again until lap 70 when rain moved back over the area. During the pit stop, the team changed four tires, added a can of fuel and made a slight air pressure adjustment to help with the handling of Menard's Ford Fusion. On the restart at lap 79, Menard was scored in the 26th position.
Green-flag racing continued without delay forcing teams to make pit stops beginning at lap 126. Carter called the No. 98 Ford Fusion down pit road on lap 130 for tires and fuel. After returning to the track, the No. 98 was lapped by race leader Kyle Busch.
The racing continued until lap 160 when the caution flag was displayed. NASCAR officials directed the race down the frontstretch and asked them to stop in front of the grandstands to honor the men and woman who have served our country. At the 3 p.m. moment of silence, all crewmen lined pit road to help honor those soldiers. Following the honorable display, the yellow flag was displayed and teams were allowed to enter pit road for service.
After a four-tire stop, the No. 98 returned to the speedway in the 30th position. Racing continued, but all eyes were on the skies as rain showers could be seen entering the area. The rain began at lap 220 and did not let up until NASCAR officials determined the race was over at 6:25 p.m. The shortened race left Menard and the No. 98 team with a 29th-place finish.
"When the race started I was real happy with the car and after the first rain delay we came in and adjusted on it," said Menard following the race. "We didn't really do a whole lot, but the track was a lot different and a lot slicker. I don't know if it was all the jet dryer fuel or whatever, but it just lost a lot of grip and we were pretty loose from there out. We tried to adjust on it from that point and got it a little bit tighter and we could never get any drive off the corner. The last round of pit stops when we lined up on the inside we made some changes and it took off pretty good, but then it rained again. I wish we could have finished the race because I thought we had a pretty good car."
After two weeks at home, the No. 98 team will travel next weekend to Dover, Del. to take on the Monster Mile.