"QUICK" RACE IN PHOENIX LEAVES MENARD WITH 29th FINISH AVONDALE, Ariz. (November 15, 2009) -- In a race that only saw four caution flags and just 24 caution laps, Yates Racing driver Paul Menard and his No. 98 Johns Manville / Menards team...
"QUICK" RACE IN PHOENIX LEAVES MENARD WITH 29th FINISH
AVONDALE, Ariz. (November 15, 2009) -- In a race that only saw four caution flags and just 24 caution laps, Yates Racing driver Paul Menard and his No. 98 Johns Manville / Menards team worked their way from the back to finish 29th at the one-mile Phoenix International Raceway. This afternoon's race featured long green flag runs and multiple green flag pit stops.
Menard qualified 41st in Friday afternoon's qualifying session. The team felt they were behind, but did not feel out of the game. After the first practice on Saturday morning was rained out, the No. 98 Johns Manville team worked hard through the final practice before the race to find additional speed in their Ford Fusion.
Before a packed grandstand and full mountain side, pole winner Martin Truex, Jr. led the field to the green flag. During the first run of the day, Menard, who started from the 41st position noted the car to be loose in and off the turns and tight through the center of the corner. Crew chief Larry Carter radioed back they would make a track bar and air pressure adjustment to help with the handling, however, before the team could make the needed adjustments, Menard was passed by race leader Kurt Busch.
Carter called Menard down pit road on lap 67 for the first pit stop of the day under green flag conditions. During the stop, Carter called for fuel, four fresh stickers, and a track bar adjustment to Menard's Ford Fusion. After green flag stops cycled through, Menard was shown 37th on the leaderboard.
The first caution flag of the day came on lap 115 when debris was spotted on the speedway. Carter took the opportunity to call Menard down pit road for another round of changes to the track bar and air pressure. Menard noted the changed work, but he could use some more grip on the track.
During the restart on lap 120, the field bunched up on the frontstetch which sent a number of cars spinning toward the inside wall. Menard easily avoided the accident and moved up to the 34th position.
In a long green flag run to the finish, Menard noted the car to get better on the long run and but still lacked grip on the track. Jimmie Johnson took the checkered flag and all but secured his fourth championship in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The top five was rounded out by Jeff Burton, Denny Hamlin, Mark Martin and Martin Truex, Jr.
"We certainly didn't have the best car today," said Menard following the race. "While Larry (Carter) and the guys were able to make the right adjustments throughout the race, it never really felt great to me. We made some strides, but needed a lot more in the end to make our car fast. I fought finding any grip on the track all afternoon."