Paul Menard and the No. 21 Menards/Knauf Insulation Mustang are set to start Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway from the 17th starting position.
Menard earned that spot Thursday evening with a lap at 181.830 miles per hour in a one-driver-at-a-time qualifying session.
That significantly bettered his best lap of 180.246 mph in pre-qualifying practice.
Menard said in a post-qualifying media session that he’d already begun focusing on the Coca-Cola 600.
“The race on Sunday is going be a lot different than qualifying on Thursday night,” he said, adding that his qualifying speed will give him a decent pit selection for Sunday.
And he said the length of the race – 100 miles longer than the next-longest race on the schedule – offers more chances to tune on the Menard/Knauf Mustang.
“Six hundred miles is a long time to dial in a car,” he said. “You start in the day and end at night, so hopefully we’ll get it dialed in for the night time.”
With Charlotte Motor Speedway idle on Friday, Menard and his No. 21 team will get their next chance to tune on their Mustang on Saturday morning, when two 50-minute practice sessions are scheduled.
The Coca-Cola 600 will follow on Sunday evening with the green flag flying just after 6 p.m. FOX will carry the TV broadcast.