Paul Menard and the No. 21 Menards/Cardell team advanced through all three rounds of knock-out qualifying at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday to earn the 11th starting spot for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500.
It was the eighth time this season that Menard and the No. 21 team have been among the elite 12 qualifiers for a Monster Energy Cup Series race.
Menard and the Menards/Cardell team started the day at Texas by running seven laps in opening practice with a best lap at 194.812 miles per hour, which put them 22nd on the speed chart.
Then in the opening round of qualifying, Menard ran a lap at 196.879 mph, which was 16th fastest and more importantly won him a transfer to Round Two.
His lap at 198.078 mph in the second round was 10th best and earned him a spot in the third round where his lap at 197.954 mph was 11th fastest and put him among the eight Ford drivers in the top 12 in qualifying.
“It was a good day for Ford and a good day for us,” Eddie Wood said. “We’ve struggled some lately in qualifying, so it was good to get back on track.
“Paul did a great job today as did [crew chief] Greg Erwin. We were a little tight in the third round, but the important thing is to make the final round and have a shot at the pole.”
Wood offered congratulations to his former driver Ryan Blaney and to Team Penske on their pole-winning run of 200.505 mph.
“That was an impressive lap, and we’re happy for them and for Doug Yates for putting together an engine package that allowed Ryan to get the pole and for all of us to be so strong in qualifying,” Wood said.
There are two practice session schedule for Saturday, which will allow teams to perfect their race set-ups for Sunday’s 500-miler, which is scheduled to start just after 3 p.m. Eastern Time, with TV coverage on NBCSN.