MENARD FINISHES 25th AFTER RAIN-FILLED WEEKEND AT MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY MARTINSVILLE, Va. (March 29, 2009) -- After qualifying was rained out on Friday afternoon, Paul Menard and the No. 98 Menards team started the race from the 38th position.
MENARD FINISHES 25th AFTER RAIN-FILLED WEEKEND AT MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (March 29, 2009) -- After qualifying was rained out on Friday afternoon, Paul Menard and the No. 98 Menards team started the race from the 38th position. The rain continued on Saturday morning, leaving the field with only one practice going into Sunday's race. After 500 challenging laps around the paperclip-shaped track, Menard finished the race in the 25th position -- moving him and the No. 98 team back into the top 35 in the point standings.
Current points leader Jeff Gordon led the 43-car field to the green flag before an estimated crowd of 63,000 people at Martinsville Speedway. Menard quickly made this way through the field gaining five positions in the first 10 laps. The caution flag waved early in today's Goody's 500, when the No. 55 lost control coming out of turn four. During the break, crew chief Larry Carter called Menard down pit road, where the No. 98 team changed four tires and made a track bar adjustment.
After noting the car was still too tight in the center of the corner, Carter told Menard that during the next pit stop they would continue to adjust on his No. 98 Menards Ford Fusion. When the caution flag flew again on lap 40 for a NASCAR competition caution, Menard piloted his Ford Fusion down pit road for service. After taking only two tires and one can of fuel, the team made another slight track bar adjustment and returned Menard to the track in the 25th position.
While the tight handling condition continued throughout the race, Menard was still able to post lap times on pace with the leaders. Throughout the race, Carter and his spotter continued to remind him of the big points picture. The goal for the No. 98 team this afternoon was to lock Menard back into the top-35, and when the checkered flag flew for race winner Jimmie Johnson, the No. 98 Ford Fusion crossed the start/finish line in the 25th position.
"The car was tight all day but we got through it and did what we came here to do," said Menard following the race. "We had a good car, but couldn't seem to get it to loosen up for us. I wish we could have picked up more spots but we did what we had to do to get back into the top 35."
Next weekend the No. 98 Menards team will travel to Texas Motor Speedway for the Samsung 500.