Paul Menard and the No. 21 Quaker State Ford Mustang put together one of their best races of the season and came away with an 11th-place finish in Saturday’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway.
Menard earned points in both preliminary Stages, then overcame the disadvantage of restarting on the inside lane in an overtime run to the finish line to finish 11th after dropping as low as 15th place during the final two-lap dash.
It was the team’s best finish since a 10th place at Richmond Raceway in April.
Eddie Wood said he was glad to see a strong team performance on a night in which the team’s sponsor was also the title sponsor of the race.
“We’re happy to have a good run for Quaker State,” Wood said. “The pit crew had a good night. [Crew chief] Greg Erwin called a really good race, and Paul drove a solid race from start to finish.”
Menard lined up 14th for the opening green flag but dropped out of the top 20 in the early laps as he sized up damage to the left front of the No. 21 Mustang due to contact on the initial start.
He was back to 13th place by Lap 60 and was in 10th place at the end of the first 80-lap Stage, earning one bonus point.
In Stage Two, he took advantage of Erwin’s call to stay on the track during a long green-flag run then take fuel only with 15 laps remaining to finish ninth and collect another two Stage points.
In the final segment of the race, Menard continued to show good speed, usually posting his best lap times in the latter portions of long green-flag runs, as he had done in the opening stages.
Due to the speed of the Quaker State Mustang at the end of long runs, Erwin elected to leave Menard on the track as many of his competitors made their final scheduled pit stops under the green flag.
Menard moved up to third place and was poised to capitalize should the caution flag be displayed before he made his pit stop. That opportunity never arose and Erwin called Menard to the pits from third place with 23 laps of the scheduled 267 laps remaining.
Menard had worked his way back to 11th place when the yellow flag was displayed with six laps remaining for a spin by Bubba Wallace. That set up an overtime run to the finish. Erwin elected to pit for fresh tires for the race-ending sprint to the finish.
Menard restarted 13th and dropped back on the restart but drove his way up to 11th at the checkered flag.
“It feels good to get a good finish,” Wood said. “We’ll move on to Loudon and try to pick up where we left off here.”
Menard and the No. 21 team travel to this week’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!