MENARD NOTCHES TOP-20 FINISH AT DOVER; SIXTH TOP-20 FINISH OF THE SEASON DOVER, Del. (September 27, 2009) -- When the storm clouds finally lifted at Dover International Speedway this afternoon, Yates Racing driver Paul Menard climbed aboard...
MENARD NOTCHES TOP-20 FINISH AT DOVER; SIXTH TOP-20 FINISH OF THE SEASON
DOVER, Del. (September 27, 2009) -- When the storm clouds finally lifted at Dover International Speedway this afternoon, Yates Racing driver Paul Menard climbed aboard the No. 98 Energizer / Menards Ford Fusion for 400 laps around the "Monster Mile." Menard started the AAA 400 from the 10th position. After battling a tight handling race car, Menard overcame going one lap down to earning back his lap and finishing the afternoon in the top 20.
When teams arrived this morning to Dover International Speedway the torrent weather had dumped an inch and a half of rain on the one-mile speedway. With just one hour to go before the scheduled start of the race the rain lifted, leaving a bright and sunny afternoon for racing. Pole winner and eventual race winner Jimmie Johnson led the 43-car field to the green flag at 2:18pm. Menard started from the 10th position, his third best starting position of the season.
During the first run of the day Menard was able to maintain his top-10 position, noting to crew chief Larry Carter that the car was pretty good, but just a little loose entering the corner. During the first pit stop on lap 26, Carter called for two tires and fuel. Menard exited pit road third after a great pit call by Carter.
After pitting again on lap 86 for four tires and fuel, Menard radioed in to the crew that the handling in the center of the corner was very tight and that his car would not turn. Over the course of the following two pit stops, the No. 98 team made both air pressure and chassis adjustments to help with the handling.
The tight condition in the center of the corner continued into a long green flag run that took the field past the midpoint of the race. During the run, Menard was passed by race leader Johnson, putting him down one lap to the field. Over the next two pit stops, the No. 98 Energizer / Menards team continued to make adjustments to help Menard's Ford Fusion.
On lap 342, the No. 98 team had worked their way back into the right position and earned the "Lucky Dog" award when the caution flag was displayed for a wreck on the frontstretch. After gaining back their lap, the No. 98 team set their sights on picking up additional positions on the track.
With just over 50 laps remaining in the race, the No. 98 team worked their way up to the 19th position, where they would finish as race winner Johnson crossed the finish line on lap 400. This afternoon's finish moved the No. 98 team into 32nd position in the owner points standings.
"We had a much better car this weekend, but were too tight for us to work our way back up the leaderboard," Menard said following the race. "We started out great, but the track continued to tighten up as the race went on. We got down a lap and through a couple good calls by Larry (Carter), we were able to get back our lap and finish on the lead lap. I thought overall it was a good race and we made some good pit calls."