Richard Childress Racing’s Paul Menard and the No. 27 Pittsburgh Paints/Menards team earned a 17th-place finish in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway. Before an estimated crowd of 85,000, the Eau Claire, Wis., native took the green flag from the 20th position and remained anywhere from 19th to 23rd in the running order during the first half of the 400-lap event.
Noting to crew chief Slugger Labbe that the neon yellow machine was handling on the loose side, Labbe directed the RCR team to alleviate the handling condition on the No. 27 Chevrolet through a series of chassis and air pressure adjustments during routine, four-tire pit stops. Despite the help in the pits, the loose-handling condition proved difficult for Menard and he fell one lap down to the race leaders before putting himself in position to earn the Lucky Dog Award and rejoin the lead lap cars when the caution flag was displayed at lap 227.
Menard then moved forward in the running order, racing his way into the top 15 by lap 250. Menard was in the 11th position for a lap-352 restart but fell to 14th with a tight-handling condition before the final caution flag of the race was displayed at lap 365, prompting Menard and Labbe to strategize during the caution period. The duo decided to make one final pit stop for tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment, positioning Menard in the 15th position for the lap-369 restart. However, the tight-handling condition remained following the stop and Menard fell to 17th in the running order before the checkered flag was displayed.
Start – 20 Finish – 17 Laps Led – 0 Points – 15
Paul Menard on his race: “The No. 27 Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Chevrolet didn’t take off the way that we thought it would following our last pit stop. The No. 27 pit crew was awesome today during every pit stop, and Slugger (Labbe) and the guys worked hard to try and give us everything we needed for a good finish. We probably would have been better off if we didn’t pit at the end of the race, but sometimes you have to make those gambles.”