Paul Menard and the No. 21 New Ford Tech Mustang are back in the Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona, thanks to the team’s pole-winning run at Chicagoland Speedway last summer.
Menard will be returning to the 75-lap non-points race for pole winners from the previous season and others for the first time since 2016.
For Menard, the Clash, which will be run in two segments just after pole qualifying for the Daytona 500, offers him a chance to collect a nice trophy and to brush up on his drafting skills before he gets down to the serious business of preparing for the Daytona 500, NASCAR’s biggest race.
“It’s nice to get a little racing under your belt before the Duels,” Menard said referring to the twin Gander RV Duel qualifying races on Thursday that will setstarting positions 3-40 for the Daytona 500. “The past couple of years I’ve had to practice by myself and qualify by myself then roll right into the Duels with no drafting experience.”
Menard also said he likes the format of the Clash, especially its length.
“I like shorter races for sure,” he said. “A lot of our races are too long.”
He said that no matter the length of a race at Daytona, or it sister track Talladega Superspeedway, the running order can change in an instant.
“You could take a snapshot at Lap Five, or 50 or 200, and you could either be running third or 30th,” he said. “There’s a lot of ebb and flow to restrictor-plate races. You can work your tail off getting to the front and the next thing you know you’re getting shuffled back.”
Sunday’s race and the paint scheme used will give Menard and the No. 21 team a chance to raise awareness of Ford’s commitment to training automotive technicians.
Graduates of Ford’s Technical Career Entry programs are immediately eligible to join the workforce as technicians, the specialists employed by Ford andLincoln dealers, as well as Quick Lane Tire and Auto Centers, to repair and maintain customers’ vehicles.
Successful graduates of the program have opportunities for employment at 3,000 Ford and Lincoln dealers.
The Advance Auto Parts Clash is set to get the green flag at 3 p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday, Feb.10, with TV coverage on Fox Sports 1.