Paul Menard and the No. 21 Menards/Richmond Ford Fusion will roll off in 15th place for Sunday’s 350-kilometer race at Sonoma Raceway.
Menard earned that starting spot in a frenzied qualifying session Saturday afternoon, turning a lap at 93.438 miles per hour.
The opening round of qualifying on a hot afternoon saw Menard and most of the top teams wait until late in the session to make a lap due to an excessive amount of Speedi Dri on the track from an incident prior to qualifying for the Monster Energy Cup Series.
That meant Menard and his fellow Cup drivers had to contend with both the dust on the track as well as traffic that otherwise wouldn’t be there during qualifying.
It was Menard’s 11th qualifying effort of 15th place or better in the 16 sessions so far this year and his fifth top-15 start at Sonoma in 11 career races there.
Team co-owner Eddie Wood said he’s feeling confident heading into Sunday’s race on the rolling 1.99-mile California track.
“Paul was happy with the car in race trim and with the transmission ratios,” Wood said. “The only real complaint we have is the heat.
“It’s really hot out here, but tomorrow’s forecast is a bit cooler.
Sunday’s 110-lap, 218.9-mile race is scheduled to start just after noon (3 p.m. Eastern Time) with TV coverage on Fox Sports 1.