MENARD FINISHES 23rd AT THE "PAPERCLIP TRACK" -- ARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY MARTINSVILLE, Va. (October 25, 2009) -- With only one practice heading into Sunday's race, Yates Racing driver Paul Menard and his No. 98 Schrock / Menards team posted a solid...
MENARD FINISHES 23rd AT THE "PAPERCLIP TRACK" -- ARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (October 25, 2009) -- With only one practice heading into Sunday's race, Yates Racing driver Paul Menard and his No. 98 Schrock / Menards team posted a solid 23rd-place finish at the "paperclip-shaped" track in Martinsville, Va. Gloomy weather overshadowed Friday and Saturday, limiting the teams to only one rain-shortened practice and qualifying on Friday afternoon. The team rallied from going down a lap in the race to finishing on the lead lap in the top 25.
Prior to racing at Martinsville Speedway this weekend, Menard and his Menards teammate Matt Crafton visited with over 212 employees at the local Masterbrand Cabinets (Schrock) factory. After touring the facility, Menard focused on the race weekend ahead of him.
Heading into Friday, weather once again limited the teams to only a one-hour practice, instead of the normal 90 minutes. After practice the team prepared for qualifying, where Menard posted the 30th-fastest time of session. On Saturday morning, the wet weather returned, forcing NASCAR officials to cancel both practice sessions scheduled for the morning.
On a picturesque Sunday afternoon in the mountains of Virginia, 43 drivers loaded into their cars for the start of the TUMS Fast Relief 500. Menard started from the 30th position and noted to crew chief Larry Carter that the car was very loose exiting the corners, but otherwise handled well. During the first pit stop of the day on lap 46, Carter called for four tires and a spring rubber adjustment to help with the handling off the corners.
During the ensuing run Menard noted the handling was getting better, but he felt like he needed more handling off the corner. With that, Carter called for an additional spring rubber change during the next pit stop on lap 90.
The handling continued to improve in the exits of the corners, but as the race went on, Menard radioed to the team that it was too tight in the center of corner. Carter and the No. 98 Schrock / Menards team made a number of the adjustments to help with the issue.
During a long green flag run shortly after the midpoint of the race, Menard was lapped by race leader and eventual race winner Denny Hamlin. Following a number of late-race caution flags, Menard worked his way back onto the lead lap and looked to the checkered flag.
Hamlin went on to win at his home state track, followed in second by points leader Jimmie Johnson. The rest of the top five was rounded out by Juan Pablo Montoya, Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon.
"We had a pretty good car this afternoon and the No. 98 Schrock / Menards pit crew did a great job all day with the number of adjustments we threw at this Ford Fusion," said Menard following the race. "Larry (Carter) made some good adjustments which helped, but picking up track position, especially at Martinsville is really tough. We could have made a couple different calls at the end of the race to finish a little better, but we ran well and brought our car home in one piece."
Next week, the No. 98 Zecol / Menards team will return to restrictor-plate racing at Talladega Superspeedway.