Talladega: Paul Menard race report

MENARD SURVIVES TALLADEGA -- BRINGING HOME A 13th-PLACE FINISH EASTABOGA, Ala. (April 26, 2009) -- This afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway Paul Menard and the No. 98 Turtle Wax / Menards team survived going a lap down and then avoided two...

MENARD SURVIVES TALLADEGA -- BRINGING HOME A 13th-PLACE FINISH

EASTABOGA, Ala. (April 26, 2009) -- This afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway Paul Menard and the No. 98 Turtle Wax / Menards team survived going a lap down and then avoided two major wrecks at the end of the race. After a long day of racing three and four wide at points, the No. 98 Menards team walked away with a top-15 finish in the Aaron's 499.

During the two practice sessions on Friday afternoon, crew chief Larry Carter and Menard knew they had a good car for Sunday's race. After qualifying 24th on Saturday morning, the duel knew if they were able to avoid the wrecks, they would walk away with a decent finish in the restrictor-plate race.

In front of 142,000 fans, 43 cars took the green flag and immediately lined up two-wide going into turn one. By the second lap, the field of cars were up to full song and the strategy of bump drafting and avoiding wrecks began for Menard.

An early wreck on lap seven brought out the first of many caution flags at the Talladega Superspeedway. Menard, who quickly made his way to the front of the field was shown fourth on the leaderboard at the time and easily avoided the wreck behind him. Following a pit stop for fuel and four tires, Menard returned to the track in the eighth position.

Debris on the race track brought out the next three cautions, which also brought Menard down pit road for tires and during one stop, fuel only. Menard continued to work his way through the field, jockeying between single file, two wide, three wide and at times, four wide racing.

On lap 85 the caution flag was displayed for a spinning race car on the frontstretch. Following a brief discussion on the radio, Carter told Menard to stay out on the track while the leaders pitted. The intention was for the No. 98 Ford Fusion to lead a lap, and then pit. When the caution car came around the next time, Carter told Menard to stay out, as NASCAR officials had yet to give the "one to go" signal. Carter told Menard they would be ok and to go race as hard as he could.

Twenty laps later, the No. 98 was forced to come down pit road for fuel. During the course of the pit stop, the No. 98 team was lapped by the field. With luck on their side, the No. 98 team was in the "Lucky Dog" position when the next caution flag was displayed on lap 128. After earning their lap back, the team knew it was survival throughout the rest of the race that would get them through to the checker flag.

After avoiding a major wreck on lap 181, just seven laps away from the finish, Menard restarted the race in the 18th position. Coming to the green flag, race leader Carl Edwards was collected in a wreck that moved Brad Keselowski to the point and earned him his first NASCAR Sprint Cup victory. Menard once again avoided the wreck on the frontstetch and crossed the line in the 13th position.

"We had a good car once we got wound up," said Menard following the race. "It took a lot for it to get speed. Our car just didn't suck up quite as good as we needed to, so that kind of put us in the middle of all those wrecks. We got through most of them unscathed, but we lost a lot of track position sliding tires and stuff trying to dodge them, but it was solid day anyway."

Next weekend, the No. 98 Menards team will travel to Richmond, Va. for the second Saturday night race of the season. FOX television and PRN radio affiliates will carry the live race broadcast beginning a 7:30pm (EST).

NEXT UP:
Crown Royal Presents the Russ Friedman 400
Richmond International Raceway (.75-mile speedway)
Richmond, Va.
Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

-credit: yates racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Paul Menard , Carl Edwards , Brad Keselowski