After two short track races, with a mile-and-a-half race at Texas Motor Speedway sandwiched in between, followed by a run on the superspeedway at Talladega, Paul Menard and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team get to try something altogether different this weekend.
The 11th Monster Energy Cup Series race of 2019 will be contested on the high-banked, one-mile concrete oval at Dover International Speedway. And Sunday’s Gander RV 400 will be the first race at Dover since NASCAR instituted its new lower horsepower/higher downforce handling package.
“It’s unlike any other track we go to,” Menard said. “I’m looking forward to it. It’s a fun track, and it’s fast.”
Menard said a lot this weekend depends on how the tire compound chosen by Goodyear reacts as well as how the new aero package affects the cars.
“Hopefully it leads to the groove widening out,” he said.
Menard, like many of his peers, says racing at Dover is a lot like Bristol in that the speeds make the race a grueling one.
“The first 200 laps seem like they take forever, and then the second 200 go by really quickly,” he said, adding that the Dover races feel like some of the hottest ones of the year. “You’re working so hard inside the car, and there’s not a lot of airflow because the track is like a soup bowl.”
He also said races at Dover tend to have long, green-flag runs, which means green-flag pit stops, which can be tricky when getting on and off pit road.
“Those green-flag stops can be pretty dicey,” he said.
Qualifying for the Gander RV 400 is set for Friday at 3:40 p.m. Eastern Time, and the race is scheduled to start just after 2 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on Fox Sports 1.