Starting from the 22nd position, Paul Menard and the No. 27 Serta/Menards team faced handling issues and late-race damage in Sunday night’s 600-mile event, earning a 13th-place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway. In the early laps of the event, Menard gained several positions and was running 16th by lap 75. Communicating to crew chief “Slugger” Labbe that the No. 27 machine was loose on entry and tight through the center of the corners, Menard came into the pits at lap 115 for four fresh tires, fuel and a variety of chassis adjustments. Shortly after pitting, a cable supporting the overhead television camera on the frontstretch fell and landed on the track surface damaging several cars and bringing out the red flag on lap 127.
The downed wire cut the right-rear tire on the No. 27 machine and the crew went to work changing four tires and adding fuel during a 15-minute red-flag period given to the teams by NASCAR officials to make repairs. Restarting 20th, Menard quickly made his way to 15th by lap 153. Continuing to fight a loose condition though the center of the corners, Labbe called for an array of chassis adjustments on the ensuing pit stops in an attempt to remedy the cars handling condition. The series of adjustments provided some relief to the Eau Claire, Wis., native and he was running in eighth when a multi-car incident on lap 335 caused right-front fender damage to the Serta/Menards Chevrolet. The pit crew made repairs during two separate visits to pit road and Menard restarted 15th with 63 laps to go.
During a round of green-flag pit stops, Labbe elected to leave his driver on track to lead lap 381 before pitting for right-side tires and fuel. Pitting under green, Menard fell a lap down to the leader. As luck would have it, the caution-flag was displayed just two laps later allowing the 31-year-old driver to be credited with the “Lucky Dog”, placing him back on the lead lap in 13th for the ensuing restart. With 11 laps remaining in the 400-lap event, Menard was able to maintain his position and finish 13th in the longest race of the season. Menard’s 13th-place effort in the Coca-Cola 600 moves him up two positions, placing him eighth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.
Start – 22 Finish – 13 Laps Led – 1 Points – 8th
PAUL MENARD QUOTE: “It was a tough day for the No. 27 Serta/Menards crew. We had a pretty good car early on and began to struggle with the handling as the night went on and the track conditions changed. The late race damage to the right front put us behind a little, but I have to give my team credit because they never gave up and made the repairs we needed to get back out and be competitive. We just ran out of laps at the end, but we’ll take a top 13 and a good points night.”