With Talladega and the possibility of landing on his lid behind him, Paul Menard is set to run the final five races of 2019 without having a relief driver on standby.
Not wanting to risk complicating the neck issues he’s been dealing with by racing at Talladega where there was a chance of flipping, Menard and the Wood Brothers team had Matt Crafton run the majority of the 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega. Now that’s in the rear-view mirror as Menard and the No. 21 Menards/Atlas Roof Shingles team head to Kansas Speedway for the Hollywood Casino 400.
“I’m good to go for the rest of the year,” said Menard, who has announced that he’s retiring from full-time Cup competition at season’s end.
In the meantime, he’s hoping to have some fun – and some good runs – beginning this weekend.
“Kansas is always a fun place to race,” Menard said. “The top groove came in good in the spring.
“I was kind of surprised because I wasn’t sure how it would be with the lower horsepower package, but the race turned out to be one of the better ones we’ve run with this package.”
Menard said there was plenty of room to race throughout the event.
“You could run the top and the middle,” he said. “The cars would fan out, and you wouldn’t get stuck behind somebody.”
The final five races include three on intermediate-length, 1.5-mile tracks, but Menard said the three venues – Kansas, Texas and Homestead – each have their own characteristics, which require different set-ups.
“Kansas is kind of rough and bumpy,” he said. “Texas is extremely smooth, and Homestead is somewhere in between.
“There’s really not much we can take from one track to the next.”
Qualifying for the Hollywood Casino 400 is set for Saturday at 12:35 p.m. (1:35 p.m. Eastern Time), and the race is scheduled to get the green flag just after 1:30 p.m. (2:30 p.m. Eastern Time) with TV coverage on NBC.