PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 CERTAIN TEED/MENARDS CHEVROLET met with media and discussed his Brickyard 400 win, his week, upcoming events, pleasing his father, and more.
A BIG VICTORY FOR YOU AT INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY. TALK ABOUT WINNING THE BRICKYARD 400, ABOUT YOUR WEEK, AND COMING INTO POCONO. YOU’RE OUTLOOK HAS GOT TO BE A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT NOW THAN IT WAS BEFORE “Yeah, I’ll try to talk up. I’ve been nursing a little bit of a sore throat here. I woke up Sunday morning with a little bit of a sore throat and this was not a good week to help that. It was just a really neat deal that the marketing team and everybody had set up. Obviously we won the race, but it was four hours after the race by the time w got back to the airport. I went home and had maybe two or three hours of sleep. Woke up at 5:30 Monday morning and got on a NASCAR plane to go to Bristol, Connecticut and ESPN and got to see how SportsCenter and all the different programs up there work, which was pretty cool as a lifelong sports fan. We got back at a decent hour and I finally had some time to sit by myself Monday night and have a drink and just enjoy the moment, I guess. And then Tuesday was a little bit slower. I actually worked out with my trainer Tuesday morning and got a little sweat going, so that was good. I did all the SPEED studio stuff on Tuesday afternoon.
Wednesday, I took my guys out for lunch and spent the day up at the shop between RCR and KHI; and here we are at Pocono. I actually got about 11 hours of sleep last night trying to kick this cold and its helping.
YOU SAID YOU ARE SICK THIS WEEK. HOW IMPORTANT IS NUTRITION WHEN YOU’RE OUT THERE DRIVING? DO YOU HAVE A DIETICIAN OR A NUTRITIONIST? WHAT IS YOUR DIET LIKE? WHAT DID YOU EAT BEFORE THE RACE AT INDY LAST WEEK? “Oh, I had pancakes for breakfast on Sunday. That was the first time all year I had pancakes. Normally I have cereal or oatmeal. So I think Jennifer is going to be cooking pancakes a lot this year! During the week I try to watch what I eat; low sodium stuff. If you go eat out, obviously sodium is your worst enemy. I just try to watch my sodium intake and if I have too much, then I definitely know it on Friday or Saturday when I’m sweating in the car. It’s nothing special. I don’t have a dietician or anything. Thirty years of living, you kind of know what works for you.”
WE’VE SEEN GUYS WHO GET A WIN AND SOMETIMES THEY RATTLE OFF TWO OR THREE MORE; AND SOMETIMES THEY GO YEARS BEFORE THEY WIN AGAIN IF THEY DO. WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES THE DIFFERENCE ON THAT? “Yeah, I hear you. I’ve got a really strong race team. We won a fuel mileage race. I understand that, but we also had a really good car all day long and we’ve had good runs this year with three or four top-fives. If we just kept knocking on the door, I felt like we were going to get one (win) if things just kind of played our way. We’ve had fast cars. Some guys maybe had to stretch fuel mileage a little bit differently or just kind of lucked into one. I don’t feel like we lucked into one; and I feel like we can get a few more.”
HAVING HAD A WEEK NOW TO TAKE IT ALL IN (WINNING THE BRICKYARD 400), WHAT IS THE SENSE OF VALIDATION IS THAT DAY FOR YOU? “It’s hard to say, but on my cell phone, and this is probably the coolest part, I have a picture of us in victory lane and that’s something that I’ll probably have on my cell phone for the rest of my life, do you know what I mean? It’s just something that I’ll always have with me. As far as myself personally regarding validation or anything like that, I’ve spoken to that before, they’ll still be detractors or whatever and I don’t really care about that. But we won the Brickyard 400 with Slugger Labbe and Richard Childress and all the guys that have put so much work into that car. It was a brand new race car. And I held off Jeff Gordon to do it and got my dad his first win. That’s validation enough for me.”
WHAT WAS THE FIRST THING YOU DAD SAID TO YOU WHEN HE GOT TO YOU AT THE SPEEDWAY AFTER THE WIN? “He said, ‘I’m proud of you, son’. And I just got out of the car and was being sprayed with water and beer and all that, and he said, ‘I’m proud of you son.’ And we gave a big hug to each other.”
CHASE-WISE, YOU’RE IN A GOOD SPOT BUT THINGS CAN CHANGE. WHICH OF THE UPCOMING RACES DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU CAN GET THAT SECOND WIN AND LOCK YOURSELF INTO THE CHASE, SO TO SPEAK? “Intermediate tracks have been our strength. Pocono, we actually ran fairly good here in June and qualified I think second and got a speeding penalty and had to fight our way back. But Indy and Pocono are fairly similar in how you set up your cars. So this could be a good weekend. We’ll see how it shakes out. I’m looking forward to Atlanta. I love Atlanta. We’ve run really well there in the past and we’ve got the Sprint Summer Showdown deal too going on so there is little extra motivation there; but the trophy is the bigger deal.”
YOUR PEERS IN THE GARAGE SAID THEY WEREN’T SURPRISED THAT YOU WON. HOW DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL KNOWING YOU HAVE THAT RESPECT FROM THOSE OTHER GUYS? “I’ve been around this sport long enough to get to know everybody and all the fellow drivers on a personal level. From what I could tell, nobody had an outward problem with me, you know what I mean? At least if they did, they weren’t showing it to my face. But you never know how the comments are and stuff until something like this happens and you win and they go around asking what people’s feelings are on it. It was really cool to hear how Dale Junior and Tony Stewart felt; and just the sheer amount of text messages I got from various drivers too; and Jeff Gordon in victory lane and Regan Smith, my good buddy, he had some nice words. But you don’t know how you are perceived until something like that does happen and it felt good to know that they thought pretty highly of it.”
A LOT HAS BEEN MADE ABOUT DALE EARNHARDT JR. LOOKING UP TO HIS DAD AND HAVING TO PROVE HIMSELF TO HIS DAD. WITH YOUR DAD HAVING SUCH A BIG NAME AND BEEN INVOLVED IN THE SPORT, DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAD TO DO THAT? “Dale Junior is in a much tougher position than I am, just from the standpoint that his dad drove too, so it was more of a head-to-head comparison. My dad has been around racing a long time. He’s driven some things, but nothing professionally. He’s run a handful of races just to enjoy it. It’s comparing apples to oranges, I think, as far as that goes. My dad is a successful man. He started from scratch and built up a great business and several great businesses in different aspects. He’s busted his tail so that’s what I try to live up to is just his work ethic and trying to create something.”
WHAT STANDS OUT IN YOUR MIND ABOUT YOUR VISIT TO ESPN? “It felt like being back in college. It definitely had a college atmosphere to it. You walk into the place and they have like a 50-yard football field; like a full-blown football field, like the centerpiece of their campus. You go through all the buildings (like) the cafeteria where you see all these ESPN commercials and stuff. That’s the real deal there. And then you go in the back and there’s a basketball court. On our way to SportsCenter about 9:30 in the morning and the basketball court was empty. We did SportsCenter, Mike & Mike, and one or two other shows. We came back and it was around lunch time, and they had a full-blown basketball game going, five on five, referee, probably 50 people in the grandstands, a full scoreboard running clock, and it was just a club deal that they do, a club tournament, but it seemed like a cool place to work, for sure.”
OF ALL THE PEOPLE WHO REACHED OUT TO YOU OTHER THAN YOUR DAD AND REGAN SMITH, WHO REALLY SURPRISED YOU THE MOST WITH A NICE COMPLIMENT? “There are probably a lot of fellow drivers I got text messages from. I got a text message from (Matt) Kenseth, who was actually upset with me at the race, but we had a good long talk and we’re all good,Tony Stewart, Travis Kvapil, David Gilliland, Bobby Labonte; a lot of drivers, probably 10 or 15 of them. The two that probably not meant the most, but felt the best about was Buddy Rice and Eddie Cheever, two Indy 500 winners that immediately after the race texted; and it felt good. We can compare rings the next time I see them all. That’s pretty cool.”
By: team chevy