This Week's Libman/Menards Chevrolet at Richmond International Raceway ... Paul Menard will pilot chassis No. 342 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This No. 27 Chevrolet Impala was a brand new addition to the RCR fleet for the 2011 season and is making its competitive debut this weekend at the 0.75-mile Virginia facility. Menard tested this car at Walt Disney World Speedway (Orlando, Fla.) in January.
"RCR has one of the best short track programs, and Slugger and I are learning a lot from what the other guys have done in the past. "— Paul Menard
Menard at Richmond ... In eight starts at RIR, Menard has finished each of his contested races and completed 99.3 percent of his laps (3,187 of 3,210), leading for one circuit. He has a 31st-place average starting position and an average finishing position of 27.2 with his best finish of 16th coming in the May 2007 event. His best start at the 0.75-mile oval came in his last visit (September 2010) when he took the green flag in the seventh position. He has also recorded two top-five and four top-10 finishes and led for 160 laps at RIR in NASCAR Nationwide Series competition.
It's Been a Very Good Year ... Menard has recorded career-best performances at nearly every track the NSCS has traveled to this season. He heads to Richmond 11th in the driver championship point standings, a mere three points out of 10th.
2011 Season Statistics:
Top-five finishes: 2
Top-10 finishes: 3
Best start: 4th (Auto Club Speedway, March)
Average start: 13.6
Average finish: 14.2
Laps led: 53
Menard Career Highlights ...
Number of NSCS starts: 155
Career best start: 1st (Daytona International Speedway, July 2008)
Career best finish: 2nd (Talladega Superspeedway, October 2008)
Top-five finishes: 4
Top-10 finishes: 11
Meet the Press ... Menard will field questions from the members of the press behind the No. 27 Libman/Menards hauler on Friday, April 29 at 2:20 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
Meet the Driver ... Menard will sign autographs at the Menards/RCR souvenir hauler located in the merchandise area at RIR, on Saturday, April 30 from 3:15 - 3:45 p.m. EDT.
Virginia is for...racing! ... Two members of theNo. 27 Libman/Menards team hail from the Commonwealth of Virginia. Curt Bowman, gas man and fuel system mechanic, is from Meadows of Dan, Va., while tire specialist Chris Sherwood is a Portsmouth, Va., native.
About Libman ... For over 110 years, the Libman family has made quality their utmost priority. William Libman started The Libman Company in 1896 with one mission; to make the finest, most durable wire-wound corn brooms. William's sons, grandsons and great grandchildren have since expanded that mission to include the finest mops, brooms, brushes and cleaning tools. For more information on Libman, please visit www.libman.com.
Race Rewind ... Two weeks ago, Menard and the No. 27 team brought home a 12th-place finish from Talladega Superspeedway after running inside the top 10 for the majority of the 188-lap event. Following the final caution of the afternoon, Menard found himself looking for a drafting partner on the restart. He persevered and claimed a top-15 result.
PAUL MENARD QUOTES:
You have qualified well at Richmond but have struggled with finishes. Do you think that this is one of those tracks that being at RCR will help?
"Yes, I do. I've always run really well there in the Nationwide Series cars, but the (NASCAR Sprint) Cup cars are a different animal. We've really struggled on short tracks over the last two years. RCR has one of the best short track programs, and Slugger and I are learning a lot from what the other guys have done in the past. At Phoenix (International Raceway), we hit on a couple of things that I think will definitely help us this weekend in Richmond. We had some damage early that hurt us in the race so we didn't have the finish in Phoenix that we were looking for. However, we definitely learned some things that will translate over to Richmond."
Last year, only six cautions for 37 laps. How surprising was that?
"Really? I didn't even know that. Normally, Richmond, being a short track, there's a lot of beating and banging which leads to tire blowouts and damage. If I had to guess, only having six cautions was a rare occurrence and I think we'll see more of them this time around."
How hard is it to make a green-flag pit stop on a short track like Richmond?
"On a big track, you can definitely make up more time when pitting under the green. You have less of a chance of going a lap down. At a short track, it's a lot harder to make up time; you can go two plus laps down. Short pitting usually isn't an option when you go to short tracks, either. Sometimes it is, but generally it's not. There is pressure on the crew chief to make the right calls at the right times and on the driver to manage his tires as best as possible."
Is it easier to get a speeding penalty on pit road at a short track?
"No, not really. It's the same everywhere. You can get caught speeding just as easy at Richmond or Daytona (International Speedway). It's just a matter of looking at your tach (tachometer) and matching numbers to assure you don't speed."