Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 380 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in the Federated Auto Parts 400. This No. 27 Chevrolet was utilized at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July where Menard earned a 14th-place finish after starting from the eighth position.
In 11 starts at RIR, Menard has been running at the conclusion of each contested race and has completed 97.3 percent of his laps (4,291 of 4,410). He has an average starting position of 27.6 and an average finishing position of 27.5 with his best finish of 13th coming in this year's April event.
Menard posted his best start at the 0.75-mile tri-oval in his September 2010 visit to the Richmond, Va.-based facility when he took the green flag in the seventh position. He has recorded three top-five and five top-10 finishes and led for 160 laps at RIR in NASCAR Nationwide Series competition.
With 25 points-paying events of the 2012 season complete, Menard sits 15th in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings, 59 points out of the final Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup spot on the merit of seven top-10 and 15 top-15 finishes.
In his sophomore season with RCR, Menard has an average starting position of 16.2, an average finishing position of 14.3, maintains an Average Running Position of 17.129, and has completed 99.7 percent of his laps (6,844 of 6,864), the fourth-best of all drivers.
On the heels of three consecutive top-10 finishes, Menard and the No. 27 Moen/Menards Chevrolet team remain in contention for a Wild Card spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup as they travel to Richmond this weekend. Menard is scheduled to participate in the Wild Card Contenders Media Availability at RIR on Thursday, Sept. 6 from 5:30 - 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time.
After starting from the 15th position, the Moen/Menards team had their 2011 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup hopes dashed when contact with a competitor forced the No. 27 Chevrolet into the outside wall. Menard and the No. 27 RCR team repaired the heavily damaged car and returned to finish 34th in the Wonderful Pistachios 400 at Richmond International Raceway.
Menard and the Quaker State/Menards Chevrolet team started from the 18th position and overcame handling issues early in Sunday's AdvoCare 500 to finish eighth under the lights at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Paul Menard quotes:
Richmond International Raceway is very different from the other two short tracks at which the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competes. How would you describe the difference to the race fans? "Richmond (International Raceway) is a three-quarter mile short track, but it races like a track much bigger than that.
You carry a lot of speed into turn one, you get hard on the brakes and then the groove opens up as you exit turn two and you can run where your car wants to run. You don't have to stick to the bottom of the race track; you can run the middle and three-quarters of the way up the track."
You finished 13th at Richmond International Raceway in April of this season, which is your best NASCAR Sprint Cup Series finish there. Is there something that you and the No. 27 team have finally figured out? "It's like every weekend. You unload the car on Friday morning and you have a sense of what direction your weekend is going to go. Last time when we were at Richmond (International Raceway), we had the throttle stick during practice and we wrecked our primary car.
Fortunately, we had a really good backup car prepared. Who knows what could have happened if we had been able to get another practice session in with that car to tune it in a little more. We ran a solid race and left with a top-15 finish."
What does it feel like to have a throttle stick in a Sprint Cup Series car? "You just do what you can to get the car slowed down and stopped with minimal damage if possible."
What have you done to learn and get better at Richmond International Raceway? "As a team, we keep working to find a package that works at Richmond (International Raceway). What works at Richmond, doesn't work at Bristol (Motor Speedway) or at Loudon (New Hampshire Motor Speedway). It's our job to figure out that unique package.
I've run well there in a NASCAR Nationwide Series car, but the Sprint Cup Series car is a different animal. So, I continue to figure out what the (NSCS) car needs so that we can run up front."