PAUL MENARD -- No. 98 Menards Ford Fusion IS IT NICE TO HAVE ALL THE WAITING OVER WITH? "It will tomorrow morning. Today it seems like the last day of the off-season to finish up all the loose ends with getting helmets all wired up and little...
PAUL MENARD -- No. 98 Menards Ford Fusion
IS IT NICE TO HAVE ALL THE WAITING OVER WITH? "It will tomorrow morning. Today it seems like the last day of the off-season to finish up all the loose ends with getting helmets all wired up and little things you need to get done before you get in the car. Tomorrow we'll do the Shootout practice and I'm really looking forward to it. The guys have been building great cars and with Doug Yates horsepower, this is gonna be a fast Ford Fusion for sure."
DO YOU THINK THIS COULD BE A BREAKOUT SEASON FOR YOU WITH THIS CHANGE? "Yeah. You stay somewhere too long and you kind of get complacent, so change is good in a lot of ways. It gets the fire going in your belly a little bit. With the people Doug and Max Jones have surrounded me with, it's a solid group of people and we've got fast race cars. With the teammates and the way the shop is run, all of the cars are the same so we can translate a lot between us drivers and crew chiefs, so I'm really looking forward to it."
DOES NO TESTING HURT A NEW DRIVER-TEAM COMBINATION LIKE YOU HAVE THIS YEAR? "We'll just get in the car and hopefully it goes fast, and I've got all the confidence that it will. We got kind of a get-to-know-you test at Rockingham a few weeks ago so Larry and I could work on our communication. Obviously we've been working together the last three months since the season ended, but that was our first time at the race track listening to him on the radio and for him to listen to me. I think it all went well, so we'll strap the helmets on and get the head sets up and start talking tomorrow."
ARE THERE MIXED EMOTIONS AS FAR AS EXPECTATIONS? YOU'RE A NEW TEAM, BUT YATES IS ALWAYS STRONG HERE. "Honestly, I think we've got a shot at the front row. Just the way the cars have been pulled down and the horsepower that we're bringing, I really think we've got a shot at the front row. If not, we've got the 150 and with a lot of teammates we can work together and get to the front that way. The Shootout practice is gonna be helpful, too. We'll learn some things that maybe some of the other guys won't and we can apply that to our 500 effort."
BOBBY IS THE HIGH PROFILE GUY COMING IN AND YOU'RE UNDER THE RADAR. DO YOU LIKE THAT ROLE? "He's won a lot of races and won championships, so he deserves all the attention. I've been talking with Bobby the last few weeks and even though I've known him the last few years, I haven't had as much dialogue as we have the last couple of weeks. He's just a great guy. He's really humble and driven. He drives himself and it rubs off on everybody in the shop."
WHAT DOES IT MEAN AS A YOUNG DRIVER TO HAVE SOMEONE LIKE BOBBY AS A TEAMMATE? "It's huge. He's won a lot of races and a championship and he's just a good guy. You can bounce ideas off of him and he'll listen to you. He wants it really bad and he's not afraid to help out the younger guys, too."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR CREW? "Larry Carter is on board and we've been working with them the last three months. Him and Joe Williams and Tim Smith and all the guys back at the shop have been working hard getting these Daytona cars, Fontana cars and Vegas cars ready. They're all basically done and ready to get loaded up. We'll see where we're at when we unload tomorrow, but I expect we'll have very fast race cars."
-credit: ford racing