PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 MENARDS CHEVROLET met with media and discussed using multiple radio channels during the Daytona 500, concentrating full time on Cup this season, and more.
ON LEAVING THE DAYTONA 500 AND COMING TO PHOENIX "This is a totally different track. I'm really looking forward to coming to Phoenix with another fast car and just seeing how this new nose is and really getting a good feel for the race team and the RCR race cars and the ECR horsepower. Everything has been really good so far. We're struggling a little bit in getting the car turned. You always struggle with drive off here and we're probably too hard on that. The car's a little big tight right now. But we'll keep working on it here in practice. But overall, I'm just really excited to be in Phoenix. It's one of my favorite race tracks. And just getting to know these cars; that's the biggest thing. Like I said, we were in Daytona for two weeks and Daytona is its own animal. Now we get to come to Phoenix. It's kind of a bread & butter type of race track. We'll see where we stack up for real now."
DO YOU THINK IT WILL BE ADVANTAGEOUS FOR YOU NOT TO SPEND YOUR TIME BETWEEN THE NATIONWIDE GARAGE AND THE CUP GARAGE THIS SEASON? "Yeah. That's really why we're not running full time this year. We decided that way before they (NASCAR) announced that you have to pick a points schedule to work on. But it was a lot last year just bouncing back & forth. The track time is good; the more laps you run around a race track in any kind of car is good. But you lose so much contact with your crew. Slugger and I can't debrief with the Cup car because I have to go jump in the Nationwide car and run practice or qualifying or something. Same deal there. You have to jump out and run to your Sprint Cup car. But we picked seven races this year to run; ones that I feel like I need to improve on and a couple of races where we think we really have a good shot at winning. So, we'll just that more as just having some fun with this year."
DID YOU RUN ABOUT AS WELL AS YOU THOUGHT YOU WOULD AT DAYTONA? BETTER OR WORSE? AND WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE SEASON? "I would definitely have liked to get more at the end of the race. We led four different times. The car was fast. Once the No. 29 (Kevin Harvick) and the No. 31 (Jeff Burton) had engine problems, (Clint) Bowyer and I kind of cooled it a little bit; literally, tried not to get the engine as hot, and trying to make a run at the end, the last 20 laps of the race, you'll heat it up as high as you can get it if it's going to get you the win. But Bowyer had his problems so I was kind of left without a drafting partner. A.J. Allmendinger and I hooked up on the last re-start and my car was faster than his but he was pushing me. That's just the way it worked out. So I had to drag my brakes a lot more with him pushing me and lost a lot of momentum. But I definitely would have liked to get more in the end, for sure. But we finished ninth. And that's not all bad. Everybody besides (Trevor) Bayne (Daytona 500 winner) wanted to get more, you know?"
YOU LEAD ME TO THE NEXT QUESTION. HAVE YOU GUYS GOTTEN TOGETHER THIS WEEK AND TRIED TO FIGURE OUT WHAT WENT WRONG ENGINE-WISE, WITH YOUR TEAMMATES? IS THERE ANY CONCERN MOVING FORWARD OR WAS IT JUST DAYTONA-SPECIFIC? "I talked to Richie Gilmore for a while this morning and he told me what was wrong with it and what they found on the Dyno and that's a restrictor-plate-specific problem that we don't foresee having any issues here; knock on wood."
LOOKING FORWARD TO TALLADEGA BASED ON WHAT YOU GUYS DID AT DAYTONA, HOW MANY GUYS ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE ON THE RADIO? WHAT'S IT LIKE TO HAVE STRANGE VOICES IN THE MIDDLE OF 200-MILE-AN-HOUR RACE SPEEDS? "Saturday night we were trying to figure out the second radio in the car and we added the second radio with I think 12 different channels of different car numbers that I could switch and talk to. I only used a couple of them. I talked to (Tony) Stewart a little bit. I talked to Regan (Smith). I tried to talk to Allmendinger, but his radio thing was dead so I couldn't get through to him. But yeah, it's very different, for sure. When you first flip over and say hey, Tony, it's Paul; can you hear me? And Tony being Tony, you wonder if he's going to lash out at you or something. But it was all good. It worked really well for everybody.
WILL IT BE THE SAME FOR TALLADEGA? "Well, if there are no rule changes or anything stating that we do otherwise, we'll do it again, yeah."
DO YOU THINK THERE SHOULD BE A RULE CHANGE ON THAT? IT SEEMED TO ME THAT YOU GUYS WERE HELPING EACH OTHER OUT TO MAKE FOR A SAFER RACE 'Yeah, I think its fine. You're on one channel with two drivers and basically one spotter spotting for you. You just have to be quick. If you guys get split up or something you just have to flip back to your channel and then try to figure out where you need to go next. But I don't think there needs to be a rule change, but we'll see."
WOULD YOU DRIVE AN INDYCAR? "I don't think I'd fit in one of those things. Those guys are really small. But it's worth thinking about, for sure. I drove one a few years ago and they're totally different than what we do, but it's worth doing."
-source: team chevy