After an up-and-down race at Bristol Motor Speedway that saw Paul Menard and the No. 21 Menards team run as high as third place before finishing 13th, the Menards/Quaker State team heads to Richmond Raceway for the first night race of the Monster Energy Cup season.
Menard, who enters Saturday night’s 400-lapper in 16thplace in the Monster Energy Cup Series standings, said he’s had mixed results over the years on the three-quarter-mile oval at Richmond.
“I’ve run well there in the Xfinity Series but not as well in the Cup series,” Menard said. “We’ll go up there and give it our best shot and see what happens.”
The veteran driver has one top-five finish at Richmond in the Cup series but has two runner-up finishes in Xfinity, to Richmond stand-outs Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin.
Menard is encouraged by the speed shown by Ford drivers in recent Richmond races. Ford drivers have won four of the past nine Cup races at Richmond.
“The Fords have run well at Richmond the last few years, so we’ll have some good notes to draw from,” he said, adding that now that he and crew chief Greg Erwin have run eight races together they’re becoming more willing to fine-tune their set-up more to their liking. “Greg and I keep learning more about each other, and we’re working well together.
“We’ve gotten more aggressive about doing our own thing instead of just relying on past notes.”
Qualifying at Richmond is set for Friday at 5:30 p.m., Eastern Time, and the race is scheduled to start just after 6:30 p.m. on Saturday with TV coverage on FOX.