Menard Gets Sixth Place Bristol Finish Via Pit Call

Paul Menard capitalized on the No. 21 crew chief Greg Erwin’s call to stay on the track during the race’s final caution period and came away with a season-best sixth-place finish in Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Pit Call

Paul Menard - No. 21
Photo courtesy of Wood Brothers Racing

Erwin’s call, which vaulted Menard and his No. 21 Menards/Sylvania Ford Mustang from 13th place to fourth heading into the 14-lap dash to the finish line, was just one of several tactical decisions that kept the No. 21 team in the running for a strong finish in Sunday’s race.

Menard started the 500-lap race from ninth place, and the team used a similar stay-on-the-track strategy at the end of Stage One to finish that segment in eighth place, thereby earning three Stage points.

The No. 21 Wood Brothers team used the wave-around late in the second stage to regain a lost lap.

Final Bristol Stage

In the final segment of the race, Erwin again called for the wave-around during a caution period with just over 80 laps left to run.

That decision worked out in the Menard/Sylvania team’s favor as well, with another caution flag putting Menard back on the same pit sequence as the race leaders.

Menard was running outside the top 10 when the caution flag flew at Lap 486 of 500 for a spin by Kyle Larson.

Erwin’s decision to stay on the track boosted Menard to fourth place for the restart and paved the way for his sixth-place finish, which moved him up two positions in the points standings to 19th place, just four points behind Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who holds the 16th and final spot in the Playoff standings.

Good Bristol Weekend

Menard said it was a great Bristol weekend all around, other than a minor mistake he made on a pit stop.

“We qualified really well and had good track position from the start,” Menard said.

Menard said he was at fault in the first pit stop error.

“I went to neutral to stop and it popped into third, so I killed the car. I put us behind doing that, and track position is so important.”

Menard additionally praised Erwin’s decision to not pit in the closing laps.

“Greg made a good call to stay out and we came home with a top 10,” Menard said.

Menard said the race was a good one from his perspective, thanks in large part to the preparation of the racing surface.

“I felt there were more options than normal,” he said. “That PJ1 [traction compound] stayed pretty much the whole race, where normally that goes away and you’re just going to the top, so I thought we had more options.”

Wood Brothers president / co-owner, Eddie Wood said Menard, Erwin and the pit crew had their best days of the young season.

“Paul did some great driving, especially on old tires,” Wood said.

“The pit crew never made a mistake, and Greg made great calls all day. He used the wave-around twice to get us back on the lead lap, and his last-second call to not pit at the end was his best decision of the day.”

Menard and the No. 21 team return to the track next Saturday night at Richmond Raceway.

2 thoughts on “Menard Gets Sixth Place Bristol Finish Via Pit Call

  • April 8, 2019 at 2:26 pm
    Permalink

    After the race i noticed every driver that finished in the top 10 was interviewed except Menard. Was he not approached or did he decline because he doesn’t always want the attention? He finished third at Talledaga recently and was not interviewed.He seems to be a great guy and clean and patient driver.I have pulled for him many years now.

    Reply
    • April 8, 2019 at 2:27 pm
      Permalink

      Good call. I didn’t notice it. I’ve met him twice, and he is a great guy. He’s just not the most dynamic guy. It’s not a dig. He’s much more introverted, and a talented driver that’s landed with a quality team.

      Reply

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