PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 MENARD'S CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at NASCAR Media Day.
TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS YEAR: "Running fast race cars. I have seen how fast all three RCR cars were last year. To start this year with four teams and everything has been going so well in the off season, we are very prepared. We got to do quite a few tests this off season. We have the learning curve of me learning a new car. Me back in a Chevrolet, that learning curve is very small. It has been really good. Looking forward to firing off in Daytona. We are as prepared as we can be for Phoenix and Las Vegas."
CAN YOU OUTLINE WHAT A DIFFERENCE IT WILL MAKE FOR YOU BEING AT RCR? "We are so much further ahead right now than we were a year ago as far as just getting cars built and prepared for Daytona. Being prepared for Phoenix and Las Vegas and the first handful of races. It has been a very easy transition for me to come back to a Chevrolet and with Richard Childress Racing. There are a lot of familiar faces up there. Slugger (Richard Labbe, crew chief) coming with me also cuts down on the learning a new team, he has helped me with that. It has been a very seamless transition so far. It has me really excited that we will be prepared for Daytona and beyond."
WHAT DOES THIS RACE MEAN TO YOU? "It is a hell of a way to start the season. If we run good here, it just starts the season much better. We're here for two weeks so by the time you get to the race, it is a relief. Obviously you have to start the season strong. Daytona pays as much points as Phoenix does next week and Vegas so we will just keep chipping along."
THE LAST TIME YOU RAN AN ECR MOTOR ON A PLATE TRACK, HOW DOES THAT GIVE YOU CONFIDENCE COMING HERE? "It is huge confidence. ECR motors and Chevrolets won all four plate races last year. We were pretty happy with the speed we had in testing in our single car runs. Would like to have gotten a little bit more, but, we had a month to go back to the shop and work on the card so we will be better when we unload. That is one thing that we don't have to worry about a whole lot, we will be pretty damn fast when it comes to restrictor plate racing."
HOW IMPORTANT OF A FACTOR FOR YOU WAS IT THAT SLUGGER CAME WITH YOU TO RCR? "It is big. We have done some testing this off season and picked up right where we left off communication wise. The cars feel a little bit different, the engines feel a little bit different, but the learning curve is very small compared to what it could have been."
WHAT WOULD BE A DREAM SEASON FOR YOU AND WHAT WOULD BE A NIGHTMARE SEASON FOR YOU? "I think if we could make the Chase that would be a huge deal obviously, that would be a dream season. I don't know about a nightmare season. I don't want to have nightmares."
WHAT IS A SAYING THAT HELPS YOU BEHIND THE WHEEL? "I was a big fan of Al Unser, Sr., when he was racing Indy Cars. To see how he approached racing; he was always there at the end. I don't know what the saying is, but if you are there at the end, you have a shot."
ARE YOU OPTOMISTIC ABOUT THE SEASON? "Oh yea, we are definitely optimistic. This is as far ahead as we have ever been at the start of a season preparation wise and having cars prepared and things turned around. We had a great off season, it feels like the off season has been really long, normally it feels short but I have been ready to get back in a car in a race car at a race weekend since about three weeks after Miami. Ready to go. We are prepared and are looking forward to the year."
HOW DID YOUR SNOWMOBILE RACING GO THIS WINTER? "This is the first winter since I can remember, probably ever, that I haven't ridden a snowmobile. It has been great snow. At Thanksgiving when I was home, there was just a little bit of snow, but not much. Then Christmas, we had a ton of snow on the ground, but, I had a real short trip back home over Christmas. Came in there for three days and then went to Vail skiing, so skiing kind of took up some of my snowmobiling time this year. None, since I was five years old, probably, old enough to ride one. We had a lot to get ready for this season and we wanted to be ready."
HOW HAS THE TRANSITION BEEN? "There is always a transition when you go to a new team obviously, but it feels like I have been there a lot longer than I have. A lot of people I worked with at DEI are there. Having Slugger come with, that obviously takes a huge learning curve out of it. We've done some testing this off season and we picked up where we left off communications wise. The cars and the motors feel great. I am ready to go."
-source: team chevy