As Paul Menard’s 13-year career as a full-time driver on the Monster Energy Cup Series nears its end, his crew chief Greg Erwin is working to prepare fast cars for his driver’ final runs in the No. 21 Menards/Maytag Ford Mustang.
This weekend’s Bluegreen Vacations 500 at ISM Raceway near Phoenix will be Menard’s next-to-last race as a full-time driver, with his final start coming the following Sunday in the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
"We’re putting a lot of effort into this weekend because we want to run well in Paul’s last trip to ISM," Erwin said.
"Phoenix has been a challenge for us," Erwin said. "We don’t have much of a notebook to go off of."
Like many a Cup venue, it’s important to get near the front at Phoenix and stay there.
"It’s a very track-position-dependent track," Erwin said.
Another factor that Erwin must take into account is the application of the PJ1 track compound to the racing surface, and he said that could be a good thing.
"Maybe the PJ1 will open up some racing lanes," he said.
Qualifying for the Bluegrass Vacations 500 is set for Saturday at noon (2 p.m. Eastern Time) and the 500-kilometer (312-mile) race is scheduled to start just after 12:30 p.m. (2:30 Eastern) on Sunday with TV coverage on NBC.