Paul Menard and the No. 21 Menards/Moen Ford Mustang are set to start Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway from 14th position.
Menard and the No. 21 team advanced to the second of three rounds of knock-out qualifying Friday but came just shy of advancing to the third and final round.
In the opening round, Menard turned a lap at 178.424 miles per hour, which was 21st fastest and good enough to move on to the second round.
He wound up making two qualifying attempts in round 2, but ended the session with a best lap of 179.371 mph.
“We picked up a little on that second run, but we bottomed out too hard,” he said. “The second run in round 2 was a Hail Mary.”
Menard said the new lower horsepower/high downforce package that is making its debut at Atlanta, is taking some getting used to.
“It feels weird to be at terminal velocity at Atlanta,” he said, explaining that he’s driving wide open, with the car dancing around on the worn, bumpy surface. “It’s a lot different.”
Menard also said he feels good about the speed of the Menards/Moen Mustang heading into Saturday’s practice session and Sunday’s 500-mile race.
“We were about as fast in race trim as we were in qualifying trim,” he said. “I’m looking forward to practice and getting with some different cars.”
Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 is set to start just after 2 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on FOX.