Michigan II: Paul Menard race report

MENARD FINISHES THE DAY 26th IN CARFAX 400 AT MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY BROOKLYN, Mich. (August 16, 2009) -- For the third weekend in a row, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was delayed for rain. While the race was completed this...

MENARD FINISHES THE DAY 26th IN CARFAX 400 AT MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY

BROOKLYN, Mich. (August 16, 2009) -- For the third weekend in a row, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was delayed for rain. While the race was completed this afternoon, it was delayed twice for rain showers. Paul Menard and the No. 98 MOEN / Menards team started the afternoon 35th and overcame a number of obstacles to finish the day 26th.

After finishing top 10 in yesterday's NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Michigan International Speedway, Menard and his No. 98 team looked forward to 200 laps at the two-mile speedway. The weather forecast for the day showed a 10 percent chance of rain with highs in the 90's and clear skies. However, shortly after the race started, the rain began to fall forcing NASCAR to bring the race cars to pit road and hold them for 18 minutes, as the rain showers passed and the track was dried.

Menard, who started in the 35 position after a tough qualifying run on Friday afternoon had a good run going while moving up the leaderboard before the caution flag was brought out on lap six. After an 18 minute delay, the cars fired back up and the racing continued.

After an early pit stop on lap nine, Menard noted the car to be too tight in the center and very loose off the corners. Crew chief Larry Carter said they would make the needed changes during the following pit stops. However, after two more pit stops and various changes, Menard radioed in that the car had no grip anywhere on the track.

Shortly after the midpoint of the race, Menard was lapped by race leader Jimmie Johnson. The team caught a lucky break with two consecutive caution flags that earned Menard the "Lucky Dog" award and placed him back on the lead lap.

Menard and his No. 98 MOEN / Menards team continued to battle with the handling of their Ford Fusion, making air pressure, track bar and wedge adjustments through the remainder of the race.

During a pit stop on lap 149 for tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment, Ryan McCray, the rear tire carrier for the No. 98 Menards team was hit by the No. 33 car who was pitting in the box directly behind them. As McCray pulled the tire off the right-rear side, and ran behind the No. 98, the No. 33 was exiting his pit box; hit the tire McCray was carrying and shot the tire directly into McCray's knee. McCray finished the stop, but had to be treated by the medical team. McCray was seen and released from the Infield Care Center and will return to action next week.

With only 50 laps remaining, Menard continued to work his way through the field after restarting 33rd. Menard picked off a number of positions in the final laps and as the checkered flag was rewarded to race winner Brian Vickers, the No. 98 MOEN / Menards Ford Fusion crossed the line in the 26th position.

"We really fought the handling of our No. 98 MOEN / Menards Ford Fusion all day," said Menard following the race. "Larry (Carter) and I really thought we had a pretty good car coming into this afternoon's race. We need to continue working on what works in practice and makes our car handle well, to be able to transfer that into the race. It seems like we have a good handle on the car for practice, but when it comes time to race, we miss something. We'll work on that and get ourselves ready for Bristol next weekend."

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Bristol Motor Speedway for the annual Saturday night race at the "World's Fastest Half Mile."

-credit: yr

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jimmie Johnson , Brian Vickers , Paul Menard