Paul Menard: Martinsville Is A Special Place For Wood Brothers Racing

Paul Menard Pit Stop
When Paul Menard takes the wheel of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion this weekend at Martinsville Speedway, he’ll make his first appearance in the No. 21 at the track where Glen Wood made the team’s first Cup start back in 1953.

Now, 65 years later, Menard will make career start No. 1516 for the Wood Brothers, NASCAR’s longest continuously operating race team.

That’s something he’s looking forward to.

“It’ll be pretty special because it’s the home track for the Wood Brothers,” Menard said. “I know they have a lot of fans up there, so we want to do well for them.”

Menard, like many of his peers, has mixed feelings about racing at the tight, paper-clip-shaped track located just a short drive east of the Wood Brothers’ home base in Stuart, Va.

“It’s a love-hate relationship,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun to drive on that track, and the races are fun for the most part.

“But they can be frustrating.”

Menard said he doesn’t lose his temper at Martinsville any more than at any other track on the circuit, but he said he also expects more retaliation for fender-banging at Martinsville than at other tracks.

He said that’s a product of the reduced speeds at Martinsville.

“The risk of injury is less there than at Charlotte or Fontana or some of the bigger tracks,” he said.

But he said it’s also nice to race at a place like Martinsville.

“It’s going back to NASCAR’s roots,” he said. “And it’s a track a lot like the ones a lot of us came up racing on.”

Menard said he’s optimistic going into the STP 500 weekend, because of his team’s performance so far this season and because of Ford’s recent history at Martinsville, where Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski is the defending race winner.

“This is the first real short-track race of the year, and the Fords have been strong there the last few years,” Menard said. “And we were happy with our performance at Fontana. We had a top-10 car most of the day and passed a lot of cars coming from the back to the front.”

Qualifying for the STP 500 is set for Saturday at 5:10 p.m. Eastern Time, and the race is scheduled to start just after 2 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on FOX.


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