Richard Childress Racing
February 21, 2012
Paul Menard Event Preview: Daytona 500
"If Indianapolis is number one, winning the Daytona 500 is definitely number two. This is the biggest race of the year for our series and would be huge to win."
Event Preview Fact Sheet
No. 27 PEAK/Menards Chevrolet Impala
February 26, 2012
Daytona International Speedway
Race Notes and Quotes:
This Week's PEAK/Menards Chevrolet at Daytona International Speedway ... Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 338 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in the Daytona 500. This Chevrolet Impala was a new addition to the RCR fleet for the 2011 season and saw superspeedway competition as Menard's No. 27 in the Daytona 500, at Talladega Superspeedway in April and at Daytona International Speedway in the Coke Zero 400 in July. The car was last seen on track at Talladega in October, entered as the No. 33 Chevy 100 Years Chevrolet where the team started third and went on to claim RCR's 100th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory.
Change of Colors on the PEAK/Menards Chevrolet during Speedweeks ... The No. 27 PEAK/Menards Chevrolet will carry a special paint scheme during Speedweeks at Daytona. "PEAK blue" and "Menards yellow" will don the Impala as the Sprint Cup Series kicks off the 2012 season.
Time to Duel ... The Duels at Daytona features two 150-mile qualifying races that determine the starting lineup for the 54th running of the Daytona 500. On Thursday, Feb. 23 Menard will join RCR teammates Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick in the first of the two qualifying shootouts and will start the 75-lap sprint from the eighth position.
New Faces on the No. 27 team ... Some new faces will sport the signature neon yellow this season, including Blythe, Calif., native Clint Almquist who was a member of the No. 29 RCR team in 2011. He joins the No. 27 crew as a road mechanic and works in RCR's fabricator shop during the week. Statesville, N.C.'s Josh Threatte joins the Slugger Labbe-led crew as an engineer. When he's not crunching numbers you can find this extreme athlete sky diving, rock climbing and mountain biking. On race day, newcomer Matt Kreuter will fuel the No. 27 Chevrolet Impala. Kreuter comes from the No. 33 RCR team and was named NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge Rear Tire Carrier Individual Champion in both 2010 and 2011. Tuning the ECR power under the hood of the PEAK/Menards machine this year is John Goodwin, who was on the No. 31 RCR team in 2011.
Gentlemen, Start Your Engines! ... The 54th Daytona 500 will mark Menard's 184th career start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. This will be his fifth consecutive run in the "Great American Race" and his 10th appearance at the 2.5-mile speedway.
Starting up Front at Daytona ... Menard earned his lone NSCS pole position at Daytona International Speedway. In 2008, he claimed the pole award for the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona (July). The following year, he started the Budweiser Shootout from the pole position when he drew the top spot during Budweiser's annual Shootout Draw Party.
Daytona Tidbits ... At a track that is notorious for the field-reducing 'Big One,' Menard has completed an impressive 99.1% of his laps (1,571 of 1,586) in nine previous starts. He has an average starting position of 22.1 and an average finishing position of 18.6, with his best finish of eighth coming in the 2011 Coke Zero 400 in July. He has led for 35 laps.
When You PEAK, You Win. ... When you want maximum protection for your car, you want to reach for PEAK Performance products. Whatever you drive, PEAK can take it on. PEAKS offers products for all of your needs under the hood, as well as products to clean, dry and polish your vehicle. From antifreeze, to motor oil, to truck bed liners, PEAK has you covered.
Paul Menard LIVE for Chevy Q&A ... Fans can participate in a question-and-answer session with Menard on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 9 a.m. EST on the Chevy Stage, located in the merchandise area outside turn four.
Race Rewind ... One year ago, RCR's newest team showcased their talents at Daytona and proved they were a force to be reckoned with by starting from the 19th position and demonstrating a solid performance to bring home a ninth-place finish in the 2011 Daytona 500.
In the Rearview Mirror: Budweiser Shootout ... Menard and the PEAK/Menards team quickly catapulted from their 24th-place starting position into the top-10, only to be collected in the first multi-car accident when the bright blue and yellow No. 27 Chevrolet was turned from behind and into the outside retaining wall, ending their night early with a 23rd-place result.
PAUL MENARD QUOTES:
Were you comfortable with the two-car drafting? There's no arguing that it increased lead changes. What did you think of it?
"We set records for lead changes and for the number of different leaders with the two-car draft. We had close finishes and I think it's safer. Honestly, I didn't see anything wrong with it. What's racing when you think about it? Lead changes, different leaders, close finishes and safety - we had all that covered. Also, there was enough of a gap that if two cars got into each other, they didn't collect everyone else."
Are the Duel 150's nerve-wracking in the sense that you're trying to accomplish two things: You want to see what your car can do in preparation for the Daytona 500, but you also want to take care of your primary car.
"It is, especially if you don't qualify on the front row with the single-car qualifying. The biggest thing is to keep your primary car intact for the Daytona 500 on Sunday. To win a Duel 150 would be a huge deal. Even though we say that starting position isn't as important at a superspeedway, pit stall selection does mean a lot. Also, with starting up front you can dictate what you want to do a little bit more. So obviously we do want to finish well in the 150's but the biggest thing is to keep your car in one piece for the Daytona 500. You want to bring your fastest car to the race, and the race that counts is the one on Sunday."
You finished ninth last year in the Daytona 500. Before the race was over, you knew that Harvick and Burton had fast cars and they were out of the race with issues. When that happens, do you have to work to push those thoughts out of your mind so you can finish your race?
"That was when the tandem drafting just started. We had a water temperature number that we said 'alright, don't get above this' and then when we saw that happen with Kevin and Jeff, we lowered that number and played it a lot more conservative trying to keep the motor cool. Honestly, I wasn't that worried. It's out of your control. If it happens, it happens. I knew that if we just kept it to the altered temperatures, we'd be just fine."
You finished in the top 10 in both races at Daytona International Speedway last year. Do you feel that you have a good shot at the Daytona 500 win this year?
"The great thing about plate racing is that it's really anyone's game. David Gilliland ran third in the (Daytona) 500 last year and Dave Blaney had a top five at Talladega Superspeedway. It opens the door for a lot of guys and levels the playing field. It's a lot of fun from that perspective. We are coming off a great test at Daytona and two top 10s there, I think we have a great chance to be up front."
How big of a race is the Daytona 500 to you? With your family's history at the race track, you are one of the few drivers who can say that winning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is bigger than winning at Daytona (International Speedway). Where does winning at Daytona fall for you?
"If Indianapolis is number one, winning the Daytona 500 is definitely number two. My history with Indianapolis goes beyond Indy cars versus stock cars. It's a place that is almost like home to me. When you think of stock cars you think of Daytona, and we race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. This is the biggest race of the year for our series and would be huge to win."