Top-Five Finish at Bristol for Paul Menard
Paul Menard started the No. 27 CertainTeed/Menards Chevrolet from the second row in Sunday's Jeff Byrd 500 after recording the fourth-quickest lap in Friday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying session at Bristol Motor Speedway. It took less than a lap for him to move into the second position and 18 laps to overtake the lead. He remained the frontrunner for 35 laps until making a pit stop on lap 52 when the field was slowed for a NASCAR-mandated competition caution. The CertainTeed/Menards crew executed a four-tire pit stop with fuel while some teams opted for two tires, fuel only, or to remain on the race track. Menard restarted from the 12th position, but quickly climbed back inside of the top 10, where he remained throughout most of the afternoon. Menard reported that his Impala was experiencing a tight-center condition that was hurting his drive off of the corners. The Slugger Labbe-led team made minor adjustments with each pit stop in an effort to improve the car's handling and adjust to the track's changing conditions. Menard fought hard to maintain his track position and, with the help of his over-the-wall crew, gained three additional spots on pit road while under caution at lap 428. Restarting eighth on lap 436, Menard battled his way into the top five, holding off challengers throughout a series of cautions and restarts, to finish fifth in the 500-lap event. Menard recorded his best finish to date at Bristol Motor Speedway and climbed to the fifth position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.
PAUL MENARD QUOTE:
"The CertainTeed/Menards Chevrolet was fast all weekend. Slugger (Labbe, crew chief) and the No. 27 guys did a great job getting it adjusted with the new tires. The crew had some really strong pit stops towards the end of the race and gained us some spots on pit road. I am very proud of all these guys and the start we've had to our season. What's cool is that we've been to four very different race tracks and we've had strong runs at all of them. I think this is a testament to Slugger and everyone at RCR. There is a lot of experience and talent up there. Slugger has built a hell of a race team and we are just having a lot of fun right now."