Menard Ready For Some Slippin’ And Slidin’ On Fast Fontana Track

Menard Ready For Some Slippin’ And Slidin’ On Fast Fontana Track

March 14, 2018

Paul Menard’s preferred form of racing pavement is old, gray, abrasive and bumpy.

Therefore it’s no surprise that the veteran driver of the No. 21 Menards/FVP Ford is looking forward to getting back on track at Auto Club Speedway in California, especially after a disappointing run at ISM Raceway, where hit the wall after a bead failure on a tire.

“I feel like our intermediate-track program is better than our short-track program,” Menard said, adding that the safety equipment in his Menards Ford kept him from feeling any soreness following Sunday’s crash at Phoenix. “I’m looking forward to getting to Fontana and seeing what we have there.”

Statistically, Auto Club Speedway is one of Menard’s better tracks in recent seasons. In his past five starts there, with another team, he has three top-10 finishes including a fourth-place in 2015.

“It’s a fun track to race on,” Menard said. “The surface is so seasoned that, although it’s a high-speed track it has a short-track feel.

“It’s a lot like Atlanta. You slide around a lot for as fast as we’re going.”

Menard added that like Atlanta, speeds at Fontana will be blazing fast during qualifying then slow significantly as the tires wear during long green-flag runs.

“I like that,” he said of the speed change brought about by tire wear on the abrasive track.

Menard also can be encouraged by the performance last year of the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Ford Fusion at Fontana. Ryan Blaney drove the car to a ninth-place finish there, which was the team’s second top-10 at the California track.

Menard enters this weekend at Auto Club Speedway 14th in the Monster Energy Cup standings with two top-10 finishes – a sixth at Daytona and a ninth at Las Vegas in four starts.

According to NASCAR’s loop data statistics, Menard has been the fastest driver on the track for 15 laps this year and has been among the top 15 for 586 laps.

Qualifying for the Auto Club 400 is set for Friday at 4:15 p.m. (7:15 p.m. Eastern Time), and Sunday’s 200-lap race is scheduled to start just after 12:30 p.m. (3:30 p.m. Eastern) with TV coverage on FOX.