Paul Menard and the No. 21 Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford Mustang are set to start Sunday’s First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway from 30th place.
Menard took that spot with a lap at 95.156 miles per hour during qualifying on Saturday afternoon, but the starting line-up won’t be official until after the cars are inspected on Sunday morning.
Menard and the Quick Lane team searched for speed throughout the day on Saturday as both practice sessions and qualifying were held on the same day.
He was 22nd in the opening practice with a best lap of 94.808 mph which he turned on his eighth of 33 laps run in that session.
In Happy Hour he was 28th on the speed chart with a best lap of 93.553 mph, which came on his sixth of 41 laps run.
His qualifying lap wound up being his fastest of the day, but Menard said he was hampered by being the first driver on the track for the session.
“It’s always tough going out first, especially here at Martinsville,” he said. “The tires just take so long to come in. I got a little too loose on entry, a little too tight back to the gas and just kind of on top of the track, but made a lot of changes today, and we’ll see if they work out tomorrow.”
Menard also said he’s proud to be driving for the Wood Brothers at their home track. “It’s awesome,” he said. “This is my fourth time doing it, and a lot of 21 fans here, so that’s neat to see.”
The First Data 500 is set to get the green flag just after 3 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on NBCSN.