Richard Childress Racing
March 5, 2012
Menard and the No. 27 Tarkett/Menards Team Take a Hit in Phoenix, Finish 31st
"The Tarkett/Menards Chevrolet was fast in practice on Friday. Unfortunately, the warmer temps for qualifying hurt the balance and we ended up in the 20th position to start today's race."
Start - 20
Finish - 31
Laps Led - 0
Points - 14
A promising weekend at Phoenix International Raceway went awry when Paul Menard and the Tarkett/Menards team spun in a multi-car incident. Damage from contact with the inside retaining wall required lengthy repairs on pit road, forcing the Tarkett/Menards Chevrolet to go multiple laps down to the leader. The No. 27 team started Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race from the 20th position after a loose-handling condition hindered Menard's qualifying lap on Saturday afternoon. When the green flag dropped for the Fresh Fit 500, the Eau Claire, Wis., native moved into the top 15 by lap 35, reporting that the Chevrolet turned well but was loose on entry. Throughout the next 97 laps the Slugger Labbe-led team made minor wedge and air pressure adjustments during two caution periods in an effort to improve the car's balance. Running 16th on lap 132, a car on the outside snapped loose and made contact with the Tarkett/Menards machine. The No. 27 Chevrolet was tagged from behind, sending the Impala hard into the wall. The 2011 Brickyard 400 champion managed to drive the car to pit road and the crew quickly went to work to cut away the jagged sheet metal. Returning to the track in the 34th position, Menard and the No. 27 team persevered until the checkered flag was displayed. Making drastic adjustments to tighten the car's handling and working to maintain track position, the Tarkett/Menards team gained three additional spots to finish 31st.
PAUL MENARD QUOTE:
"We had a really good car here this weekend. The Tarkett/Menards Chevrolet was fast in practice on Friday. Unfortunately, the warmer temperatures for qualifying hurt the balance and we ended up in the 20th position to start today's race. We tried to run a patient race but got caught up in a mess when the No. 22 car got loose. Otherwise, I think we would have had a top-10 finish."