Paul Menard and his No. 21 Ford Mustang will be honoring one of America’s racing heroes this weekend in the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway. Menard’s Quaker State-sponsored Mustang will carry a paint scheme reminiscent of the Quaker State colors that appeared on the No. 11 World of Outlaws sprint car driven by Steve Kinser in 2005, the year he won his 20th series championship.
The paint scheme was chosen in a fan poll that included Quaker State colors carried in NASCAR by Ricky Rudd in 1988, when his No. 26 Buick delivered Quaker State its first NASCAR win, at Watkins Glen. Fans also had the option of voting for a design carried by Eddie Cheever and his No. 27 Lola in 1996, when he ran the fastest Indy 500 lap ever with a blistering speed of 230.103 miles per hour on the 78th lap of that race.
Menard said carrying Kinser’s familiar green Quaker State paint scheme is an honor.
"When I was a kid, Steve Kinser was at the top of his game," Menard said of the legendary driver who won 690 A-Main events in his career. "I definitely have a lot of respect for what he’s done."
Menard also has a lot of respect for the Kentucky track, which he says can be a challenge – especially Turn Three.
"Turn Three at Kentucky is the trickiest turn of any track we go to," he said. "Turns One and Two are pretty straightforward for a mile-and-a-half track, then Three is flatter on entry.
"You’re loose on entry, then you pick up the banking as you go into Turn Four."
Turns One and Two at Kentucky are banked 17 degrees, with Three and Four at 14 degrees. Most other intermediate tracks are banked from 18 to 24 degrees in the turns.
Menard said that while Kentucky is flatter than most mile-and-a-half tracks, it makes up for it by being wider than most.
"It’s definitely a unique track," he said.
Menard and the Menards/Quaker State team enter Saturday’s race 20th in the points standings and still hopeful of securing a playoff berth. He said he feels like he missed a chance to gain points on the drivers he’s battling to be one of the 16 in the Playoffs in Sunday’s rain-shortened race at Daytona. He said his Mustang had speed while many of the drivers he’s battling for a playoff berth had problems, but the race was called for rain before he could capitalize.
"It’s an uphill battle," he said. "Our best bet is to go out and win a race."
Qualifying for the Quaker State 400 is set for Friday at 6:05 p.m., and the race is scheduled to start just after 7:30 p.m. on Saturday with TV coverage on NBCSN.