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Menard paces RCR efforts for Daytona 500 qualifying

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Paul Menard and the No. 27 Menard’s Chevrolet team of Richard Childress Racing paced the team’s four-car effort for this year’s Daytona 500 qualifying.

When the afternoon session ended, they posted the 14th-fastest effort with a 195.503 mph/46.035 sec around the 2.5-mile superspeedway. This will line them up seventh in the second Budweiser Duel 150 on Thursday.

Next fastest from the team was Austin Dillon in the No. 33 Honey Nut Cheerios Chevrolet; who was 16th on the scoring pylon. The rookie logged a lap of 195.385 mph/46.063 sec. to earn the eighth-place start in Thursday’s second race, as well.
Needing to race his way into the 55th running of the Great American Race, Dillon will have plenty of help from his RCR teammates.

Jeff Burton had a qualifying lap of 195.156 mph/46.117 sec. in the No. 31 CAT Chevrolet; which was 20th-fastest overall. Burton will be lined up outside the fifth row in the second Duel 150 on Thursday in 10th place.

Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet team laid down a lap of 194.742 mph/46.216 sec. as the 25th-fastest time. He will be the lone RCR representative in the first Budweiser Duel 150 on Thursday.

Having both Menard and Burton with him in his Budweiser Duel 150 to determine the final Daytona 500 starting grid will be to Dillon’s advantage.

“We have a fast car, felt like we were going to be faster than that in qualifying,” Dillon said. “It’s a tight field right there just so close.  I don’t know if wind or what could get you.”

“It’s really good though that we have ECR engines out here. For Thursday, we’re going to do whatever it takes to get in the show because we don’t have points.  Whatever it takes to get in the show, and after that  - have some fun.”

Menard talked about his qualifying run and what needs be done in his Budweiser Duel 150 on Thursday.

“We picked up like a tenth of a second from practice, which is hard to do,” he said. “In practice, everything gets heat soaked, everything gets hot.  I’m glad we picked up a tenth.  A lot of guys are picking up more than that though.”

“This is all about the guys.  It’s almost like an off-weekend for us drivers.  We are just out here making laps.  These guys put all the work in at the shop.  We have a really good piece.  Just looking forward to Wednesday and seeing how the cars are going to drive in the draft.”

“Nobody is really locked in so you’ve got to go race.  After watching the Sprint Unlimited on Saturday night, even though it was really cold, the cars were driving pretty good it seemed like.”

“We are going to be racing Thursday in the daylight.  I’m not sure what the temperature is going to be, but nonetheless it’s going to be a little more of a handful.  Obviously you have to keep your nose clean, but you’ve got to race hard.”

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