Paul Menard and the No. 21 Menards/Jack Links Ford Mustang are set to start Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway from 31st place, but he said he feels good about the set-up he and the team have prepared.
He said that set-up likely cost him some starting positions but he feels like the strategy will pay off in the race.
"We probably have a little more downforce than some guys, anticipating the race conditions," Menard told reporters after qualifying. "I felt really good yesterday, even in the draft and being able to run through [Turns] One and Two better than a lot of guys.
"It came with the sacrifice of probably not qualifying very well today."
Menard was the second driver on track for qualifying, the second time in two weeks that he’s been in the unenviable position of being among the first to go out. He toured the track at 185.344 miles per hour.
That was slower than his best lap in practice on Friday when he turned a lap at 186.981 mph in the final Happy Hour practice. That time was posted on his 26th of 33 laps run and put him 19th on the speed chart for that session.
In the opening practice, also on Friday, Menard’s best lap of 186.400 mph, which he posted on his 20th of 33 laps run, was 17th best in the session.
Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 is set to get the green flag just after 2 p.m. (3 p.m. Eastern Time) with TV coverage on NBCSN.
The race will consist of two 85-lap Stages followed by a 164-lap run to the checkered flag.