Paul Menard and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team finish 13th in New Hampshire
Menard lined up 17th for the start of the 301-lap race on the Magic Mile, but immediately was dealt a setback when he received damage to the nose of his Mustang when the inside line was slow to get up to speed on the initial start.
Crew chief Greg Erwin elected to stay on the track and wait until a regular pit stop to repair the damage as maintaining track position is paramount in NASCAR these days, especially in a relatively short race.
Nonetheless, Menard held his spot in line and ended the first 75-lap Stage in 18th place.
In Stage Two, with repairs to the nose of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Mustang complete, Menard took advantage of Erwin’s pit strategy, raced into the top 10 and finished the second 75-lap segment in ninth place, earning two stage points.
Because he did not pit in the latter portions of Stage Two, Menard made a pit stop at the end of the stage. He rejoined the field in 24th place.
As the laps wound down, Menard steadily moved forward. He fell a lap down at one point but was in position to claim the free pass and rejoin the lead lap when the caution flag flew on Lap 220 for a spin by Kyle Larson.
Back on the lead lap, Menard continued to move up the scoring chart.
He was in 17th place with 30 laps remaining and up to 13th with 20 to go.
Menard held his spot through to the checkered flag to score his best finish at New Hampshire since a 12th-place finish in 2012.
He moved up one spot in the points standings to 19th and is 60 points behind 16th-place Clint Bowyer with six regular season races remaining before the start of the 16-driver, 10-race Playoffs.
Eddie Wood said he was pleased to leave New Hampshire with a decent finish.
“It was a really good day,” Wood said. “We had damage to the grille on the start and got that fixed.
“We got a lap down and made that up, and Paul drove from 24th to 13th, which is pretty big.
“The guys on pit road did a good job, and Greg called a good race. We gained a little in points, so we’ll go on to Pocono and try to do it all again.”
Next up for Menard and the team is the Gander RV 400 at Pocono Raceway.