Pocono: Paul Menard race report

Menard Turns in Top-25 Performance at Pocono Long Pond, PA -- Paul Menard delivered another solid performance under the directorship of Crew Chief, Doug Randolph. Randolph, who has been instrumental in success enjoyed by Menards Racing in the...

Menard Turns in Top-25 Performance at Pocono

Long Pond, PA -- Paul Menard delivered another solid performance under the directorship of Crew Chief, Doug Randolph. Randolph, who has been instrumental in success enjoyed by Menards Racing in the first portion of the 2008 race season, led the Dale Earnhardt Inc. team to a 25th place finish in the Pocono 500.

After qualifying 17th for the first Pocono event of the season, Menard was feeling good about his No. 15 Menards/Pittsburgh Paints Chevrolet Impala SS.

"It turned out to be a pretty sporty lap," Menard said of his qualifying effort. "We had an early draw, which I thought would hurt our lap time, but I'm glad to be starting in the top-20."

As indicated by past events at the facility, track position is key at Pocono Raceway and today's race proved no different. Strategy also came into play, as pit sequences proved to be the name of the game in Sunday's 200-lap race to the checkered flag.

While the first 27 laps were run under caution, Menard had yet to make his green flag stop. After doing so under caution, Menard restarted the race in 19th place. As the field took the green flag for the restart, Menard lost three positions on track, alerting the crew the car was not responding well to restarts. He continued to make his way around the 2.5-mile triangle track.

Pit strategy once again came into play on lap 57 when the caution flag flew and Menard entered pit road in 28th place, but Crew Chief Doug Randolph opted for two tires and the team gained ten spots on pit road. Menard was able to hang onto a position in the top-20 for most of the following 100 laps of the race. When Green flag stops began on lap 175, Menard again opted to prolong his trip to pit road seeing the caution flag fly on lap 178. While this occurrence would normally mean advancement on track in other events, Pocono's size allowed drivers to pit and remain on the lead lap, meaning those who had already visited pit road were able to move up through the field. Menard restarted the race in 28th place and was able to gain three positions over the course of the closing 19 laps of the race.

"It's really tough to pass at this track," Menard said. "So the fact that we picked up those positions at the end of the race shows that this car had a lot of speed in it. I think the brakes may have going at the end there, since they weren't really responding. With what we learned today, we'll definitely be able to come back in August and have an even better game plan for fuel mileage."

With the 25th place finish in the race, Menard maintains his 27th place spot in NASCAR Sprint Cup driver's points and the No. 15 team remains 26th in owner's standings.

This week, Menards Racing heads to Michigan International Speedway for the Lifelock 400.

-credit: dei/mr

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Paul Menard