Talladega II: Second finisher press conference

NASCAR Sprint Cup AMP Energy 500 An interview with: PAUL MENARD THE MODERATOR: We're going to go ahead and get started with our post race interview session with the driver of the No. 15 Menards Chevrolet, Paul Menard. Paul, take us...

NASCAR Sprint Cup AMP Energy 500

An interview with:
PAUL MENARD

THE MODERATOR: We're going to go ahead and get started with our post race interview session with the driver of the No. 15 Menards Chevrolet, Paul Menard. Paul, take us through your race today and the finish.

PAUL MENARD: Well, we had a good car all day long. Qualified fifth. Car had speed in it all day. Didn't make any chassis adjustments, just did a little bit of air pressure after the first run to free it up. It was just all track position really.

I didn't see a bad handling racecar out there. So a lot of track position. Two tire pit stops. Alternate right sides, left sides, right sides. Pretty close on fuel at the end. We had to last two or three cautions, I was shutting the motor off to let it coast, conserve fuel.

I think that's what happened to the 8 car right at the end.  He bobbled a
little bit with low fuel pressure.  Last lap was pretty wild.  I was pulling
for Regan, obviously.  I thought he had it.  I guess not.  But all in all, a
good, strong effort for DEI.  Martin got up there, led some laps.  Eric led
some laps.  I led a few laps.  I thought Regan led the most important one.

You know, it is what it is, I guess.

THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions for Paul.

Q: How worried were you about your tires?

PAUL MENARD: About my tires?

Q: Yes.

PAUL MENARD: Not at all. We didn't have any tire issues in practice. Every time we took the sets off during the race, they looked fine.

I think the guys who were blowing tires might have had a little tire rub or a aggressive camber, but ours were okay.

Q: You were probably the guy with the best vantage point. Did you feel Stewart pushed Regan below the yellow line or he went there as an evasive maneuver?

PAUL MENARD: Tony caused almost two wrecks in the last few laps just blocking people. You know, he blocked Regan, which I guess he's supposed to. Regan countered to try to get around him. Dipped his left sides underneath the yellow line.

We've seen in the past that they've allowed that to happen coming to the checkered. For some reason they chose not to this time.

Q: Several years ago when you ran in the ARCA race you won your first time never having seen the place. You won your first career pole at Daytona. Is there something about restrictor plate racing that stands out to you that you seem to understand maybe better than some of the other tracks?

PAUL MENARD: It's fast racecars. Ultimately, that's it. The ARCA race we sat on pole, got disqualified, started in the back. Once we were up front, we were the fastest car, nobody could get around us. Daytona, obviously we had a pole run, which is holding it wide open, putting it on the pole. Here we qualified fifth. Got some good help with all the DEI teammates. We all worked really good together today, so it was really cool to see.

Q: Obviously this caps an eventful week for you with the decision to leave DEI. How satisfying is this for you?

PAUL MENARD: I mean, rather have it happen in the Daytona 500, obviously, but we'll take it this late in the season. Yeah, I mean, it was a bittersweet week. I'm definitely looking forward to going to Yates. To see them sitting on the pole for this race today, they had fast racecars, that was good to see, promising come Daytona.

DEI, they're going to be okay. They've had strong racecars today, as you saw. You know, they'll be okay in the future. So it's nice just to get all that behind us, get the hard part for myself anyway out of the way, just kind of concentrate on next year, not to mention the final seven races or six races this year.

Q: What's happened at DEI the last six or seven weeks? All of a sudden you're back to where you're supposed to be.

PAUL MENARD: Bobby Hutchins coming over helps a lot. He got some of the disorganization between the different departments sorted out, you know, got everybody firing on the same page anyway.

Bobby Hutchins has lots of experience, lots of credentials at RCR, helped organize that organization. Now helping us out at DEI, it's just been a big help.

Q: Given this is your career best finish, are you sentimental or regret at all making the decision? What really played the part in your leaving? Was it your decision or your father's?

PAUL MENARD: I mean, it's done. I'm looking forward to next year. We'll continue the final six races here. Looked at everything on paper. I made the decision to part DEI. So it falls on my shoulders and I'm very confident with my decision.

Q: You mentioned your interpretation was that you could do this on the final lap, that that had perhaps happened in the past. Do you recall any specific instances of that happening?

PAUL MENARD: I think it was Daytona or maybe Talladega in the spring, but it happened one of these last restrictor plate races. I can't remember specifically.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Paul.

-credit: nascar

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