MENARD FINISHES SEASON-BEST 12th AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY JUSTIN, TEXAS (April 5, 2009) -- In this afternoon's 334-lap race at Texas Motor Speedway, Yates Racing driver Paul Menard experienced the highs and lows of Sprint Cup Series racing. After...
MENARD FINISHES SEASON-BEST 12th AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
JUSTIN, TEXAS (April 5, 2009) -- In this afternoon's 334-lap race at Texas Motor Speedway, Yates Racing driver Paul Menard experienced the highs and lows of Sprint Cup Series racing. After qualifying fifth for the Samsung 500, Menard worked his way up to the third position. However, after a faulty radio connection between Menard and his spotter, the No. 98 team lost a number of positions. After going down a lap midway through the race, the No. 98 was able to earn the lap back, gain a handful of positions and post a solid 12th-place finish.
Pole winner David Reutimann led the 43-car field to the green flag before an estimated crowd of 178,000 fans at Texas Motor Speedway. Menard started from the inside of row three and quickly worked his way into the third position. Menard securely positioned himself inside the top three for the first 50 laps of the race.
On lap 52 green flag pit stops began as drivers began diving down pit road for tires and fuel. The No. 98 followed suit and entered down pit road, bringing his Ford Fusion to the attention of the Menards pit crew. Following a stop for two cans of fuel and four new tires, the No. 98 reentered the track scored in the fifth position.
During the ensuing run, Menard noted the car was too tight in the middle of the corner to crew chief Larry Carter. Also during the long green-flag run, the radio communication between Menard and his spotter was lost. During the 15-lap segment, Carter jumped in and protected his driver around the 1.5-mile speedway. Communication was quickly restored and the No. 98 was back on track, but lost 10 positions on the track in the process.
Green flag pit stops began again on lap 151, with the No. 98 team coming down pit road on lap 156 for tires and fuel. During the pit stop, Carter also called for a track bar adjustment to help with the handling in the middle of the corner. The adjustment helped, but did not do enough for Menard as the team lost a lap on lap 217 when he was lapped by race leader Greg Biffle.
After going a lap down, Carter came over the radio and told the team to focus on the big picture and to keep their heads up. Following a caution flag on lap 231, the No. 98 was rewarded the "Lucky Dog" award and was placed back on the lead lap. Following three more pit stops and a handful of changes, Menard quickly began his climb up the leaderboard. On the last lap of the race, the No. 98 beat the No. 12 to the line by inches, earning him a 12th-place finish for the afternoon -- his season best finish of the 2009 season. This afternoon's finish also moved the No. 98 into 32nd position in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Owner Points.
"Overall, it was a pretty good afternoon," said Menard following the race. "We had a tough time there when I lost Stevie (Reeves - No. 98 team spotter), but once we got him back on the radio Larry (Carter) made some great calls, gambled a little with pit strategy and in the end, it all paid off for us. I really thought we had a top-10 easily, but with everything that happen this afternoon we'll settle for a top 12. The guys worked hard, had some good pit stops and got us in a better position in the points."
Following a weekend off for the Easter holiday, the No. 98 Menards team will travel to Phoenix International Raceway for the Subway Fresh Fit 500.