Daytona 500: Paul Menard race report

Menard Finish 22nds in Daytona 500 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 18, 2008) - Paul Menard and the No. 15 Menards Racing team turned in a solid flag to flag performance in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season curtain raiser at Daytona ...

Menard Finish 22nds in Daytona 500

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 18, 2008) - Paul Menard and the No. 15 Menards Racing team turned in a solid flag to flag performance in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season curtain raiser at Daytona International Speedway.

"It's probably one of the greatest honors to race in the Daytona 500," Menard said of his Daytona 500 debut. "The fact that my first Daytona 500 is also the 50th running of the event makes today even more special."

When the festival of pre-race activities wrapped, Menard took the green flag in 21st place, but quickly advanced into the top-20 pack of cars.

By lap 12, Menard was up to 15th place and continued to ride out the opening laps of the race. The first round of pit stops was made under green flag conditions. Menard brought the No. 15 Chevrolet down pit lane on lap 37 for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment to help Menards loose condition into turn three. After a brief misstep getting into his pit box, Menard was back on track with four fresh Goodyears. The extended time on pit road relegated Menard to 29th place on the racetrack.

Menard drafted with Dale Jarrett and JJ Yeley in effort to catch the lead pack of cars, riding out another green flag run and returned to pit road on lap 75 for his second round of pit work. After four tires and fuel, Menard returned to the track in 27th place. Three laps later the caution flag flew for debris and Crew Chief Doug Randolph called Menard back in for right side tires only.

On lap 85, Menard restarted the race in 22nd place trying to remain patient through another 115 laps of racing action.

At the halfway point in the race, Menard was shown in the 28th place. Menard continued his quest towards the front and was up to 22nd place when the caution flag flew for debris on lap 151. Menard came in for a full service stop on lap 152 and the Menards Racing over the wall crew delivered another super fast pit stop, earning the driver a three spot gain on pit road.

"My pit crew is one of the best," Menard said. "It's a lot easier to pass cars on pit road than it is on the track."

On lap 155, Menard restarted in 17th place and advanced to 14th place by lap 156. Five laps later Menard avoided the spinning car of David Ragan and was shown in 20th place for the third caution period of the day.

Randolph called Menard in to pit for two tires and fuel, putting the 15 team in 17th position for the lap 180 restart.

After a quick eight lap run, another bunch of cars spun in front of Menard and the driver opted to come down pit road for tires on lap 188. Another caution and 12 laps later, Menard completed his Daytona 500 debut in 22nd place.

"It was a good day," Menard said following the race. "Definitely could have been further up there in the top-20 but that's the way it shakes out in speedway racing. All in all it was a great way to start the season. "

-credit: dei/mr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Paul Menard , David Ragan