Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 384 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This No. 27 Chevrolet was built new for 2012 competition and was last seen on track at Auto Club Speedway in March where Menard finished 19th after starting from the 27th position in the rain-shortened Auto Club 400.
By the Numbers at the ‘Tricky Triangle’ … In 10 career Sprint Cup Series starts at the 2.5-mile tri-oval, Menard has finished all but one of his contested races and completed 96.7 percent of his laps (1,847 of 1,910). He has an average starting position of 22.6 and an average finishing position of 22.9. One year ago (June 2011), Menard logged his best start of second, and it was in last year’s August event that he earned his best finish of 10th at the Long Pond, Pa.-based facility.
Getting Loopy in 2012 … With 13 points-paying events of the 2012 season complete, Menard sits 14th in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings, 41points out of the final Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup spot. In his sophomore year with RCR, Menard has an average starting position of 19.5, an average finishing position of 16.2, maintains an average running position of 19.2., and has completed 99.6 percent of his laps (4,269 of 4,288).
Racing Close to Home … The No. 27 team’s front-tire changer, Terry Spalding, grew up in Troy, Pa., 2.5 hours northwest of Pocono Raceway. This is Spalding’s second season as a member of the Sylvania/Menards pit crew and his third at RCR.
Cheeseheads Battle for the Cover … The Drive for the Cover campaign has officially kicked off and Menard has the opportunity to grace the cover of NASCAR The Game: Inside Line. The campaign positions 32 drivers in a five-round bracket-style tournament where fans will select the cover driver for this year’s game. In the first round, the Eau Claire, Wis., native faces Cambridge, Wisconsin’s Matt Kenseth. Fans can vote one time per day through June 9, on the NASCAR The Game: Inside Line Facebook page at http://www.driveforthecover.com/menard
Testing, Testing 1, 2, 3 … Menard and the No. 27 team will participate in an open test session June 6 and 7 at Pocono Raceway. They are utilizing chassis No. 379 from the RCR stable, which was last seen in action at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the 2012 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race (May).
Race Rewind … Starting from the front row in the 2011 500-mile race at Pocono Raceway, Menard and the No. 27 Chevrolet team rallied to a 14th-place finish after an early pit road penalty.
In the Rearview Mirror: … Menard and the No. 27 Pittsburgh Paints/Menards team earned a 17th-place finish at Dover International Speedway after battling handling conditions for much of the 400-lap race.
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PAUL MENARD QUOTES:
Do you feel that Pocono Raceway was in need of being repaved? “I can’t speak for the track because I don’t know what condition the actual surface was in. I’ve never walked on the track. I’ve only driven around it. As a driver, I always like the older, worn out tracks and I hate to see them repaved. But if there is asphalt that’s not going to last for the duration of the race, like we saw at Daytona (International Speedway) then it warrants a repave. Drivers don’t typically like it, though.”
Was driving off the exit of pit road and into turn one as rough in the car as it looked like on television? “You definitely feel how rough it is, and at full speed you feel it even more. I find that we hit the splitter harder down the straightaway at tracks like Pocono (Raceway) than we did in the corners. The splitter really limits the travel which makes for a pretty rough ride.”
Are you concerned with the speeds that you might hit now that the track has been repaved? “It’s all relative, actually. The speeds will be higher because the grip will be better, and barring any parts failure you should be able to stop better that you did before. A lot will depend on what kind of tires Goodyear brings for us to use. I am curious to see how turn one will be now. Turn one was really wide and depending on how well your car is handling you used to be able to run all over the place. I am hoping that is still the case, but we’ll have to see when we get there for the open test on Wednesday.”
The last time you raced at Pocono Raceway you got a top-10 finish. Do you feel like you can build off of that, or is it a whole new animal now? “Unfortunately, we’ll be starting from scratch when we unload there this year. So much of what we do is based on how the tires are, and with a new surface we’ll have to learn everything all over again.”