Paul Menard and the No. 21 Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford Mustang were on their way to recovering from a poor starting position in Sunday’s First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway when a freak mechanical issue dealt them a setback they were unable to overcome.
He wound up 21st at the finish.
Menard started 30th in his final Cup run at Martinsville, the home track for his Wood Brothers team, and managed to keep from getting lapped – a real feat for someone starting near the rear of the pack on the tight half-mile track – until the first caution flag at Lap 29.
But his hard-fought ground was immediately lost when his engine failed to restart after Menard routinely shut it off and coasted under the caution flag. The engine eventually refired but the delay led to a lost lap and a drop to 35th place.
Once the race restarted, the green flag flew for 97 straight laps. Menard held the free-pass position for much of that run but eventually saw other drivers ahead of him get lapped, and that led to Menard losing a second lap.
By taking the wave-around he was able to regain one of the lost laps, but by the time he did there were less than 40 laps left to run. Menard gained two positions in the closing laps to move to 21st in the finishing order.
Eddie Wood said the second lost lap was more than Menard and the team could overcome.
“We just couldn’t get two laps back,” he said. “We were in position to get back on the lead lap for a long time but it just didn’t work out.
“It was a typical hard day at Martinsville.”
Menard and the Wood Brothers maintained 19th place in the points standings with three races left to run including Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.