Watkins Glen: Paul Menard race report

MENARD POSTS TOP-20 FINISH AT THE GLEN WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 10, 2009) -- After another rain out on Sunday afternoon the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was pushed to Monday at Watkins Glen International. Yates Racing driver Paul Menard...

MENARD POSTS TOP-20 FINISH AT THE GLEN

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 10, 2009) -- After another rain out on Sunday afternoon the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was pushed to Monday at Watkins Glen International. Yates Racing driver Paul Menard started the race from the 14th position, his third best qualifying effort of the season and went on to post his fourth top-20 finish of the season. After a day full of left and right hand turns, Menard and the No. 98 Sylvania / Menards team finished this afternoon 19th.

After a strong practice to open up the weekend on Friday afternoon, Menard and the No. 98 Sylvania / Menards team posted the 14th fastest time in qualifying. The effort would start them on the seventh row for Sunday's race.

As the drivers loaded into their cars for the 90-lap race around the 2.45 road course, a massive storm moved over the speedway. With persistent rain and the forecast looking much the same, NASCAR officials were forced to move the race to Monday afternoon.

Back on Monday for the second week in a row, the engines were fired at 12:10pm EST, followed with 43 cars taking the green flag for a full day of road course racing at Watkins Glen. Menard started from the 14th position and was able to maintain his starting position through the first turns of the race.

An early caution on lap 17 for debris on the inter loop sent majority of the cars down pit road, as pit strategy and fuel mileage would become the game of the day. Menard came down pit road on lap 18 taking on four tires and one can of fuel. Menard noted the car was a little free turn two and pretty decent everywhere else. Crew chief Larry Carter made a slight air pressure adjustment to help with the handling of Menard's Ford Fusion.

On lap 20, as the field exited turn 10, Menard made hard contact with the rear bumper of the No. 24 car, wrinkling the right-front fender on this No. 98 Sylvania / Menards Ford Fusion. During the ensuing pit stop on lap 24 under caution, the No. 98 team topped of the fuel and pulled the fender out on the No. 98 Ford.

Carter and team engineer Nick Sandler worked out the fuel mileage so that Menard would only have to pit once more on lap 55, where they changed four tires, added two cans of fuel and made a slight chassis adjustment.

The pit strategy quickly changed as Menard barely missed a huge wreck coming out of turn 10 on lap 62. The No. 77 went off course, then coming back across the track collecting the No. 24 and No. 31 in the process. Menard, who followed just behind the No. 24 went through the debris scattered on the track and decided it would be best to pit just in case. Following the pit stop, Menard returned to the race in the 24th position.

Over the remaining laps of the race, Menard worked through the field to earn his fourth top-20 of the season, bringing home the No. 98 Sylvania / Menards Ford Fusion in the 19th position.

"We had a good car today, but struggled a little on the restarts," said Menard following the race. "Larry (Carter) and the guys gave me a great car that was fast all weekend long. We thought we had a good fuel mileage plan worked out, but that quickly changed with all the cautions this afternoons. Overall, I thought it was a good race, I wish we had a little better position at the end, but to come out of here in one piece, I'm pretty pleased."

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Michigan International Speedway for the second race of the season at the two-mile speedway.

-credit: yr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Paul Menard
Teams Yates Racing