Darlington Raceway 500
The No. 27 Turtle Wax/Menards Team Finishes 22nd in Darlington
For the second consecutive weekend, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams battled it out on Saturday night under the lights, this time at the historic Darlington Raceway. Paul Menard started the No. 27 Turtle Wax/Menards Chevrolet from the 18th position; however, a tight-handling condition prevented him from gaining ground during the first green-flag run. He brought the Chevrolet to pit road under the lap-33 caution period for four tires, E15 Sunoco fuel and a track bar adjustment. When the field returned to racing, Menard continued to wrestle the Turtle Wax/Menards Impala around the 1.366-mile race track.
The Slugger Labbe-led crew continued to work during subsequent pit stops to adjust the handling challenges that Menard was facing. As he entered his pit box, while under caution on lap 124, he was tagged from behind by the No. 2 car. The contact spun the No. 27 Chevrolet around, forcing the over-the-wall crew to pit the car as it faced backwards. Menard made a second visit to pit road so the team could repair the damaged rear bumper. He restarted from the 30th position on lap 127. During the ensuing long green-flag run, Menard climbed up to 27th but handling issues continued to torment Menard throughout the remainder of the SHOWTIME Southern 500.
On lap 281, he entered pit road to make a green-flag pit stop just as the yellow flag was displayed for debris. The No. 27 crew continued to change four tires and pack the car with fuel. Front tire carrier Eric Pringle was removing tape from the grill as Menard started to leave the pit and was caught by the front bumper. Fortunately, Menard got the car stopped quickly and Pringle was unhurt. A multi-car accident forced the scheduled 367-lap event to a green-white-checkered finish. Menard had reported through the race that the engine's temperature climbed during caution periods and on the final lap, it expired. Menard was able to coast to the checkered flag in the 22nd position.
PAUL MENARD QUOTE:
"The Turtle Wax/Menards crew was solid on pit road tonight. I'm glad that (Eric) Pringle is okay. That is a scary moment when you realize that you almost ran over one of your crew guys. The jack dropped and that's my signal to go. Thankfully Slugger (Labbe, crew chief) yelled for me to stop right away; it could have been big. We'll put tonight behind us and look forward to Dover."