Richard Childress Racing
May 7, 2012
Paul Menard and the No. 27 Turtle Wax/Menard Team Salvage 17th-Place Finish After Late-Race Incident at Talladega
"It was frustrating for all of us because we had a top-five car that could have contended for the win."
Start – 17
Finish – 17
Laps Led – 10
Points Position – 14
Paul Menard started from the 17th position in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway and was running the third in the closing laps when he received heavy damage in a multi-car incident, relegating the No. 27 Turtle Wax/Menards Chevrolet team to a 17th-place finish. Inclement weather delayed the start of the Aaron’s 499, however, when the green flag was displayed, the race was uncharacteristically marred by only one caution period in the first 144 laps. Menard opted to comfortably race in the back of the pack, monitoring his gauges in an effort to avoid overheating as rising oil and water temperatures plagued many teams while engaged in pack racking. With approximately 50 laps remaining in the scheduled 188-lap event, Menard began to work his way to the front. The Eau Claire, Wis., native visited pit road for routine service and was returning to the track from a green-flag stop on lap 144 when the “Big One” erupted in turn three, collecting nine cars in the accident. The field was slowed with Menard scored in the third position. With the lead cars coming to pit road to top off on fuel, he led the pack to the green flag for the restart and remained there for eight laps. Menard continued to hold a position in the top 10 and was poised for a top-five finish, narrowly avoiding the melee that resulted in the caution flag on lap 181 as the No. 51 car spun directly in front of the neon yellow machine. Menard restarted from the third position on lap 185 and was collected in turn one as the car lined up in the outside line was tapped and turned hard into the right-side of the No. 27 Chevrolet. The Slugger Labbe-led team worked tenaciously to remain on the lead lap, pitting on eight occasions for repairs to the heavily damaged car. Lining up in the 19th position for the green-white-checkered finish, Menard advanced two spots to collect a 17th-place result. Menard remains 14th in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.
PAUL MENARD QUOTE:
“Slugger (Labbe, crew chief) and the guys gave me a great car this weekend. We raced in the back for the majority of the laps and stayed out of trouble. The Turtle Wax/Menard Chevrolet was fast and I was able to drive through the field, and we missed the ‘Big One’ that happened just as we were coming off of pit road from a green-flag stop. Usually you’re safe up front, but at these restrictor-plate tracks, you never know what is going to happen next. During the restart (on lap 185), we got nailed on the right-side when the No. 22 car turned right into us. The team did a great job making repairs in the pits and we managed to salvage a decent finish. It was frustrating for all of us because we had a top-five car that could have contended for the win.”