Daytona II: Pole winner interview

PAUL MENARD, NO. 15 MENARDS / VERTIS IMPALA SS -- Pole Winner: TALK ABOUT THE EXCITEMENT AND THE THRILL OF WINNING YOUR FIRST CAREER POLE AND STARTING UP TOP TOMORROW NIGHT. "Well, its obviously a good position to be in. We didn't focus at...

PAUL MENARD, NO. 15 MENARDS / VERTIS IMPALA SS -- Pole Winner:

TALK ABOUT THE EXCITEMENT AND THE THRILL OF WINNING YOUR FIRST CAREER POLE AND STARTING UP TOP TOMORROW NIGHT.

"Well, its obviously a good position to be in. We didn't focus at all on qualifying yesterday. All we did was draft practice so honestly I had no idea how we'd run by ourselves but obviously pretty good. I was really happy with the way the car drove in the draft and how fast it was. It really had good speed so I knew that it would qualify the best that we had all year. Hats off to everyone at DEI and Earnhardt-Childress Racing engines. They gave us more power and this is the same car that we ran at Talladega a couple months ago and it was really fast there. We ran top-ten basically all day long and came back here with the same car and just brushed up on it a little bit and gave it a little more power. That's what did it."

ARE YOU CONCERNED THAT YOU JUST HAVE A GOOD QUALIFYING CAR AND YOU WILL HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL THE FIRST STOP TO GET IT RIGHT FOR THE RACE?

"Well, kinda like I said, we drafted really good and it didn't drive one-hundred percent how we wanted it but it was eighty percent right there. So we made an adjustment right there at the end of practice and went out there and did our last run and really got it a lot better. It's really racey where I could go to the top and tug on the wheel, drive to the bottom, drive around cars. So that's a July race in Daytona where its slick, its hot, and that is what you need is a racey car. But with that said I am a little bit nervous because usually the fast cars are not necessarily the raceable ones. We worked on it and really would have liked to have that second practice to work on it some more but the adjustment that we did at the end of practice to make it better, we can do in the race, so we can keep working in that direction."

WHEN YOU GOT TO THE END OF YOUR LAP AND THEY TOLD YOU THAT YOU WERE IN POSITION ONE, WERE YOU SURPRISED?

"We ran a forty-eight forty. If we had run a fifty flat, I would have known the difference, but you just can't do anything here as a driver. When the eighty-eight went out before us he ran a 48th, fifty-three I believe and when my crew chief Doug Randolf said that we ran a forty, I knew we would be top-5 or top-10 and I thought for sure that one of the go or go-homer cars would knock us off at the end. Like Bob said, they are doing things like taking pulleys off and trying to eak out a little more speed but we didn't do anything like that obviously. We have a very raceable race car and like I said I thought one of the go or go-homers would have gotten us but they didn't."

HAVE YOU SENSED A WAVE OF BETTER RESULTS COMING BECAUSE YOU HAVE DONE BETTER THIS YEAR THAN IN PAST?

"The last two races were probably two of the worst races of my career. We just really sucked. We started off the year pretty good, had some really good runs like at Bristol where we had drove up to the top-ten but wound up getting in a wreck with some other cars. We were running top-five in Talladega and got turned. We've had some good runs we just haven't had the results to show it. The last two races, really, were just not good but this is a real boost. So we'll build towards Chicago next week, we are testing at Kentucky next week to get our intermediate track a little bit better. We've got a test planned at Milwaukee to get our short track stuff to run better. We're working hard to try and figure it out."

IS YOUR DAD HERE TO ENJOY THIS WITH YOU?

"He's not. He's probably up at the cabin. Its been nice up in Wisconsin so when its nice he goes up to northern Wisconsin up on the lake. I haven't talked to him yet. I talked to him a couple days ago but I will try and give him a call tonight for sure."

YOU HAVE WON A COUPLE OF NATIONWIDE SERIES POLES, BUT THIS IS YOUR FIRST SPRINT CUP CAREER POLE. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO YOU PERSONALLY?

"Well we're in the Bud Shootout so that is cool. That's extra track time in Daytona when we come back. A pole at a plate track like this is not about myself or any driver who gets the pole, its all about the guys at the shop. I mean they put their hearts and souls into it. They work so hard on four plate races a year and massage the body and with the COT it's much harder because you can only do so much with it. The engine shop has been putting out good horsepower at every track we come to we've made pretty significant gains and the last couple months they've made some more gains that have put us in this position and have three DEI cars in the top-ten."

WHAT DID IT MEAN TO DEI TO PUT ALL THREE GUYS IN THE TOP-TEN? IS IT A BIG MORAL BOOST FOR ALL YOU GUYS AFTER WHAT HAPPENED YESTERDAY WITH MARTIN?

"What happened yesterday, I don't know the whole story but it was obviously very unfortunate. They built a new car and the tolerances are so close with the COT that it was just off by a little bit and you saw what happened. So they got their backup car out and I believe it's the car that they ran in the Daytona 500, here or in Talladega, so it's a race proven car and they'll be fine. They didn't qualify all that strong but when you get in the draft it really doesn't matter."

"But the fifteen, the one, and the eight, obviously are all in the top-ten and we all did our homework. Obviously the one car didn't work with their backup car enough to get a good qualifying lap, but they'll be fine."

-credit: gm racing

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Series NASCAR Cup