Paul Menard and the No. 27 Moen/Menards team battled for track position throughout the Save Mart 350, but it was a late-race spin that left them with a 20th-place finish at Sonoma. After starting the 16th points-paying NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event of the 2012 season from the 23rd position, the Eau Claire, Wis., native drove into the top 20 by lap 18.
During the team’s first two routine green-flag pit stops of the event, crew chief Slugger Labbe called for fresh Goodyear tires, air pressure adjustments and a spring rubber removed from the left rear in an effort to provide the No. 27 Chevrolet with additional grip. Following another pit stop on lap 83 for four tires and fuel while under caution, Menard reported that the car’s handling was a lot looser during the ensuing run due to an increased fuel load but with the additional fuel, the team was able to complete the race without making another pit stop.
The 2011 Brickyard 400 winner drove to the 17th position, but reported concern of a left-front tire going down. As he maneuvered through the turns, he slowed and the Menards Chevrolet was hit from behind and sent spinning in turn seven, bringing out the second and final caution on lap 108 to set the stage for a green-white-checkered finish. After visiting pit road one final time, the No. 27 Chevrolet was equipped with four new tires and Menard drove to a 20th-place result at Sonoma.
Start – 23rd
Finish – 20th
Laps Led – 0
Points – 14
PAUL MENARD QUOTE: “We had a car capable of a better finish, but we battled track position all day with the long green-flag runs. You really need to unload well when qualifying is scheduled for Friday because after only one practice session we weren’t quite there this week. The team worked hard during Saturday’s practices and we learned a lot. I’m not sure what caused the tire to go down in those last laps, and I hate that the No. 27 Moen/Menards Chevrolet was spun and caused that last caution. We’ll look ahead to Kentucky Speedway next weekend.”