PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 SERTA/MENARDS CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Auto Club Speedway and discussed his season so far, the effects of the shorter race and much more.
TELL US ABOUT BEING FIFTH IN POINTS AND HOW YOU FEEL SO FAR THIS SEASON. “Things are going good. We’ve had a good start to the year. We are four races in. We’ve run strong on four totally different types of race tracks which for a start-up team is a cool thing. Slugger has built a really good race team. Came out of the box strong in Daytona, had a shot to win that. Phoenix didn’t go quite as well as we had hoped. Vegas we had a good run. Bristol we had a good run and here we are in California hoping for another one. Hopefully it dried up and we’ll be on track here soon.”
YOU GUYS ARE OFF TO A GREAT START, THE NO. 29 IS DOING WELL. WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF RCR? “The No. 31 has had terrible luck. Obviously Daytona they had engine problems, got caught up in a wreck at Phoenix. Vegas and Bristol they ran all day had some problems in the pits and some issues they need to work through obviously. Overall our cars are really nice, they have shown pretty good speed. In Phoenix the No. 33 and No. 31 both passed me, they had good cars and they both got tore up. The speed is there, just trying to reduce all the troubles in the pits, the motor issue in Daytona which was kind of a fluke deal. Everybody is just racing so hard you’re going to have wrecks and just trying to avoid them. The way the points are its tough to bounce back, a bad run really hurts you more so than the past. They’ve got the speed, they’ve got the talent on the race teams to come back. I don’t foresee them being down there for very long.
THERE’S BEEN A LOT OF CHATTER LATELY THAT SOME OF THE PEOPLE ARE BEGINNING TO COME AROUND TO THE IDEA THAT YOU KNOW HOW TO DRIVE, HAVE YOU EVER FELT ANY TYPE OF RESENTMENT OR ANYTHING ELSE FROM YOUR FELLOW DRIVERS OVER THE FACT THAT YOU USUALLY COME WITH A SPONSOR AS OPPOSED TO BE ABLE TO MAKE IT ON YOUR OWN? “Not from the drivers, no. Drivers have been really good. Obviously we race each other hard every week and they see what I’m capable of and I learn from them and that’s good. I see it probably more from the media than anything, honestly. It’s just one of those deals. I’m not changing the way I do it. I go out and do my job the best I can. I’m not trying to prove anything, just go out and do the best job.”
WHAT ABOUT THE FACT THAT THEY TOOK 100 MILES OUT OF THIS RACE, WHAT DOES THAT DO TO THE STRATEGY, PREPARATION AND HOW DO YOU HANDLE 400-MILES AS A SPRINT OPPOSED TO A MARATHON? “It won’t affect a whole lot. When we come to California, when we go to Michigan the straightaways are really long, lots of RPMs so the engine builders a lot of times will put a mileage limit on us for practice whether its you can only practice 70 miles over the course of two days, or 80 miles whatever it is. Cutting that mileage down we should be able to practice as much as we want. As far as the race goes, strategy is going to be a little bit different. It’s just going to move that back window up 100 miles to make it to the end. Still might see fuel mileage, we’ll still see green-flag pit stops and everything. We’re still going to race as hard as we normally do every lap.”
NOW THAT YOU ARE WAITING ON THE FUELER MORE TIMES THAN THE TIRE CHANGER, AS A DRIVER WHICH WOULD YOU PREFER … GETTING ALL THE FUEL IN OR WOULD YOU RATHER GO ON THE TIRE CHANGERS AND GET THAT POTENTIAL TRACK POSITION AND KNOW THAT YOU’VE GOT A SMALLER FUEL WINDOW? “We saw that come into play in Vegas. The last pit stop was green-flag and getting a full load of fuel to get to the end and that’s what it really comes down to, is how much fuel do you need to make it to the end. For us we stayed on pit road about two and a half seconds too long, just making sure we had enough fuel. That hurt us in the end. The years before you could always go on the tire changer, the tire changer would be the last guy, the fueler would beat him so you could see it in your mirror where the tire changers were and kind of anticipate it. With the fueling now you can’t really anticipate it. The tire changer backs away and the fueler is still plugged in so you can’t really tell when the jack stand drops so it makes it difficult to anticipate when you’re done. But at the end of the day you need as much fuel as will get you to the end.”
-source: team chevy