Paul Menard started and finished 15th in Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In between, there was a strong performance by Menard and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team.
When the green flag dropped to start Sunday’s 400-miler, Menard dropped back through the field, falling just outside the top 30 after just a few laps.
But he began working his way forward, and between Menard’s driving, the strategy of crew chief Greg Erwin and the quick work of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew he was back to 17th place by the end of the first 80-lap Stage.
Erwin’s strategy called for leaving Menard on the track while most of the drivers ahead of him made pit stops. When Menard did stop after working his way into the top five, Erwin elected to take just two tires instead of the customary four, and that allowed Menard to remain on the lead lap through the end of the stage.
The team used the same strategy in the second stage and ended that segment in 16th place.
“Greg made some good calls on pit strategy because the car was as good with two new tires as with four,” Eddie Wood said. “And he had it figured out so we didn’t fall off the lead lap.”
Menard had some left-front damage at the end of Stage Two, but the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew repaired that for the final run to the checkered flag, where Menard finished 15th in a race that was slowed by just two caution flags, both for the end of Stages.
“It was a good solid day all around,” Wood said. “Paul and Greg weren’t very happy with the car after Happy Hour, and they made a bunch of changes that really helped it.
“Our lap times were really good on a lot of laps, and Paul drove hard all day.”
Menard’s finish allowed him to move up one spot in the points standings to 20th.
Wood also offered congratulations to Joey Logano and the No. 22 team on their victory.
“It’s been a good couple of weeks for the Ford Mustang, for Ford Performance and our friends at Team Penske,” Wood said, referring to the back-to-back victories including Brad Keselowski’s triumph a week ago at Atlanta Motor Speedway. “It’s always a good day at the track when there’s a Blue Oval in Victory Lane.”
Menard and the No. 21 team now head to ISM Raceway in Phoenix for next Sunday’s Ticket Guardian 500.