Richard Childress Racing
April 14, 2012
Paul Menard and the No. 33 Rheem/Menards Team Finish Second at Texas
"It was a lot of fun to get back in the No. 33 Chevrolet and I'm looking forward to six more races with these guys."
Start – 1
Finish – 2
Laps Led – 100
Owner’s Points Position – 3
Paul Menard started the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway from the pole position and finished second in the first of seven NASCAR Nationwide Series appearances in the Rheem/Menards Chevrolet. Menard and the No. 33 team gave a commanding performance, both on track and in the pits, throughout the Friday night affair, leading for a total of 100 laps around the 1.5-mile speedway. With more than two seconds separating Menard and the second-place car, a late-race caution changed the momentum of the race when the circuit breaker that manages the turn three lights overheated and the track dimmed. NASCAR officials displayed the red flag and brought the field to pit road until the situation was remedied. With two teams choosing not to pit, Menard restarted third with 28 laps remaining and was faced with handling issues while racing in traffic. By the time the Eau Claire, Wis., native moved to second, a large gap separated the bright yellow No. 33 Chevrolet from the leader. A lap-189 caution pulled the field together for the final restart of the night. Menard took the green flag from the front row, but fell to fourth when a three-wide battle ensued on the restart. In the closing laps, the Ernie Cope-led team moved into the second position, but did not have enough time to overtake the lead for the win.
PAUL MENARD QUOTE:
“Ernie (Cope, crew chief) and the No. 33 Rheem/Menards team built a fantastic car. I thought we had a chance on that final restart. If the No. 18 hadn’t made it three-wide, I think we could have stayed with Stenhouse (Jr.) and gotten the lead back. He jumped to the outside of me and I lost a little momentum. Once we got back into second, we just didn’t have enough laps to catch the No. 6 car one more time. It was a lot of fun to get back in the No. 33 Chevrolet and I’m looking forward to six more races with these guys. We let one get away tonight, but we’ll get to Victory Lane this year.”