Richard Childress Racing
March 20, 2012
Paul Menard Event Preview: Auto Club 400
"The track is really wide. You can run top to bottom and everywhere in between. It's relatively smooth, too, and makes for fun racing for us drivers."
Event Preview Fact Sheet
No. 27 CertainTeed/Menards Chevrolet Impala
Auto Club 400
March 25, 2012
Auto Club Speedway
Race Notes and Quotes:
This Week's CertainTeed/Menards Chevrolet at Auto Club Speedway ... Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 384 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This No. 27 Chevrolet Impala is a brand new addition to the RCR fleet and will log its first laps on the track at during Friday's practice session.
Menard in Fontana ... In his nine previous starts at Auto Club Speedway, Menard has finished each of his contested races and completed 98.3 percent of his laps (2,113 of 2,150). He has a 27th-place average starting position and an average finishing position of 25.3, with his best finish of 16th coming last season. His best start at the two-mile speedway also came in March 2011 when he took the green flag in the 15th position.
Quietly Kicking Off the Season Right ... With the first four points-paying events in the books, Menard sits 10th in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings. In his sophomore year with Richard Childress Racing, Menard has an average starting position of 23.5 and maintains an average running position of 17th. The Eau Claire, Wis., native is tied for ninth in the NASCAR Loop Data category for Green Flag Speed, ranks second in the Closers category, improving an average of 3.8 positions in the final 10 percent of the four contested races, and is the seventh-fastest driverLate in a Run . He has spent 62.8 percent of his laps in the top-12, ranking him 11th in that category.
California Boy ... The No. 27 CertainTeed/Menards team has one member from the Golden State. RCR fabricator and mechanic Clint Almquist is a native of Blythe, Calif. Almquist grew up racing in Southern California and earned Rookie of the Year honors at Blythe Speedway in 1996. The following year he was crowned Hobby Stock Champion. He made the move to North Carolina in 1999 and has since climbed the ranks as a mechanic in NASCAR.
About CertainTeed ... CertainTeed Corporation is a leading North American manufacturer of building materials including roofing, vinyl and fiber cement siding, trim, fence, railing, decking, foundations, insulation, gypsum, ceilings, and pipe products. Headquartered in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, CertainTeed has approximately 7,000 employees and 70 facilities throughout the United States and Canada. CertainTeed is a subsidiary of Saint-Gobain, one of the top 100 industrial companies in the world. Saint-Gobain's North American companies operate nearly 200 manufacturing facilities in industries as diverse as industrial ceramics and containers, reinforcements and flat glass, abrasives, and building materials. For more information, please visit www.certainteed.com.
Race Rewind ... In March 2011, handling issues plagued the No. 27 Chevrolet team early in the 200-lap race and Menard quickly slipped from his 15th-place starting position. The Slugger Labbe-led team made adjustments during each pit stop in order to neutralize the tight condition that Menard was battling. Buried deep in the field for the restart after the final caution of the day, Menard battled back to the 16th position, where he took the checkered flag and recorded his best finish at the two-mile speedway.
In the Rearview Mirror: Bristol ... Starting from the 11th position, Menard and the No. 27 Moen/Menards team emerged unscathed from Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway to finish 10th and earn their third top 10 of the 2012 Sprint Cup Series season.
PAUL MENARD QUOTES:
Last year you finished 16th, but that was still your best finish at Auto Club Speedway. You do so well at intermediate race tracks with solid top-five and top-10 finishes. Why is it that this one has been such a challenge?
"I don't know. That's a good question. It changes a lot with the weather, so we find ourselves chasing the weather conditions. One day it might be cold in California and the next day it might be 20 degrees warmer; that changes a lot with the car. I just haven't quite nailed it yet."
How would you describe Auto Club Speedway? Is it opening up? Is it more competitive?
"I know that California (Auto Club Speedway) gets knocked as a race track since it is wide open and generally caution free. Drivers tend to enjoy that, though. You have long runs and can really analyze your car and work on it during pit stops. The track is really wide. You can run top to bottom and everywhere in between. It's relatively smooth, too, and makes for fun racing for us drivers. If a race fan wants to see crashes and cautions, that's probably not going to happen there."
The races at Auto Club Speedway typically turn into a fuel mileage race. With the EFI engines changing fuel mileage, do you think you've had enough time to get a hand on that and really understand what you have?
"Every track that we go to, Daytona (International Speedway), Bristol (Motor Speedway), California (Auto Club Speedway), it does not matter because it's a fuel mileage race. It just matters where the cautions fall. EFI isn't going to change any of that. You might be able to run a lap or two longer in a fuel run, but ever track that we go to will be a fuel mileage race if the cautions fall appropriately."
Out in Fontana (Calif.) a lot of times celebrities show up - movie stars, television stars and musicians. Have you ever met anyone out there that sticks out as being someone you thought was pretty cool to meet?
"Usually there's some celebrity at every race track, but in California there are more than normal. I've met two people at Auto Club Speedway over the last couple of years that I thought was pretty cool. The first was Christian Slater. That was cool because I was a big fan of his growing up in the early 90's. The other was Chuck Lidell who is an MMA (mixed martial arts) guy. To watch those guys on TV is crazy. They're pretty hard core. Then you meet them in person and they're really nice guys."