Paul Menard and the No. 21 Menards/Duracell Batteries Ford Mustang were on track at Pocono Raceway just seven races ago, but they’ll find a different surface when they arrive for this weekend’s Gander RV 400.
Track officials are applying the PJ1 traction compound to all three turns of the Tricky Triangle in an effort to widen the racing groove. The PJ1 has been used at several tracks, but this is a first for Pocono.
Menard said he expects the traction compound to have a positive effect on the racing product.
“It should make for a wider track and a better race,” he said, adding that maintaining track position near the front of the pack will still be the key to a good finish. “The cars are so aero-dependent and it’s so hard to pass that it’s really hard to overcome a loss of track position.”
Menard said one of the keys to getting good track position to start out with it through a strong qualifying effort.
“Qualifying is so important, because if you start out up front it’s hard for people to pass you,” he said.
Another factor in the track position/pit strategy equation is stage points.
In many instances, going for stage points puts a driver and team at a disadvantage once the stage is over, so the stage points earned must outweigh the potential loss of track position.
“Two [stage points] at a time won’t cut the mustard,” Menard said. “You need to get at least five-point chunks at a time.
“We need to be more aggressive about that.”
There will be two practice sessions at Pocono on Saturday, followed by qualifying for the Gander RV 400 at 4:05 p.m.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!