Paul Menard and the No. 21 Menards/Knauf Insulation Ford Mustang are set to start Saturday’s Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway from 25th place.
During qualifying on Friday night Menard toured the track at 125.881 miles per hour to earn that position.
Despite a couple of bobbles, his speed in qualifying was fairly consistent with his lap times in two practice sessions earlier in the day. He was 22nd fastest in the opening session with a best lap at 125.88 mph, which he posted on the 21st of 44 laps run in that session. In Happy Hour his best lap, at 125.790 mph, was 21st fastest and came on the 20th of 76 laps run. He also posted the 12th best speed on the 10-consecutive-lap-average chart.
Saturday’s 500-lap, 266.5-mile race will see Stage breaks at Lap 125 and Lap 250, and will be contested on a track in which PJ1 traction compound has been applied to the portions of the lower groove while the top groove has been cleaned of accumulated rubber, much to the dismay of several drivers who expressed concern the top groove would not be usable as is.
Others said overall track conditions are improving as the weekend rolls along.
Eddie Wood said there’s another factor that trumps all the rest.
“The most important thing at Bristol is making it to the checkered flag with the fenders still on the car,” he said.
The Night Race is set to get the green flag just after 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time with TV coverage on NBCSN.