Ford Performance NASCAR: Kentucky (Paul Menard Media Availability)

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Friday, July 12, 2019
Quaker State 400 Media Availability — Paul Menard

PAUL MENARD No. 21 Menards/Quaker State Ford Mustang — HOW WOULD YOU GAUGE YOUR SEASON SO FAR, HALFWAY THROUGH? “It is certainly not where we want to be. I feel like we have definitely shown some speed in the races, it is just a matter of putting together the entire race, something we have struggled to do. It starts on Friday, or qualifying day. The package that we are dealt this year it is really hard to pass and track position is as important as it has ever been and when you qualify 15th it is hard to make up passes and get stage points and do the things you need to do to make the playoffs. The times we have qualified in the top-10 we have been able to get stage points and finish in the top-10 a few times. Track position is key. That is something we have been working on for sure but it isn’t playing out to our satisfaction but we keep working on it.”

WHAT WOULD IT MEAN FOR YOU TO BE IN VICTORY LANE TOMORROW NIGHT? “It would be huge. Quaker State and I go way back. They sponsored my families Indy cars back in the ‘90s and they were on my first Legends car way back in the day, a green Quaker State car. They have been big supporters of me through the years. They are great people I have been to Houston a few times visiting their headquarters down there and they have some really cool stuff that they do. It is a huge company obviously. I was fortunate years ago to go back into the laboratory and see how they actually make the oil. I saw how they blend the oil. It was a lot of really cool stuff that they do. It is an honor to have them here. They love Kentucky Speedway and do a good job promoting the race.”

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WHAT YOUR YOUR PLANS NEXT YEAR? “I have a good job, for sure. I love the Wood Brothers. I love my race team. They are good people. I have a contract for next year. I guess it is getting to be that time of year when people start talking about things. I have a contract and I love my team. We just have to perform better, that is all.”

YOU CAN BREAK A CONTRACT IF YOU WANT TO RIGHT? BUT IT DOESN’T SOUND LIKE YOU ARE READY TO HANG IT UP YET. “Yeah, I mean I guess if you get enough lawyers involved anything can happen. That is what they get paid for.”

YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE TRACTION COMPOUND: “Yeah, We are definitely using it in 3 and 4. 1 and 2 we are right on the edge of being wide open and having to lift a little in 1 and 2. We haven’t moved up there yet. We will definitely be up there in the race once you are in dirty air and trying to make passes you will be running all over the compound in 1 and 2. 3 and 4 it is the preferred groove up there. I think it will be a benefit in 1 and 2 during the race to give you an option to pass. I think 3 and 4 it will be harder to pass because everybody will be up there. To finish the pass on the bottom is going to be pretty difficult.”

HOW HAS THE CHARACTER OF THE TRACK CHANGED SINCE THE REPAVE HERE? “It is a little faster I would say. Definitely a lot smoother. There are some bumps that are coming back especially down the backstretch. The backstretch is getting pretty bumpy, surprisingly. It is a typical repave. It has a lot of grip in the surface so Goodyear has to make a durable tire which they have done and that makes the cars kind of edgy and kind of a one-groove. They put the PJ1 stuff down and that seems to be making a difference but it made 1 and 2 a little faster than it used to be. We are wide open at certain times. Maybe not throughout a whole run but we will have some options down there for sure.”

IS THERE ANYTHING FROM THIS TRACK THAT YOU CAN CARRY INTO THE 1.5 MILE TRACKS IN THE PLAYOFFS? “It is a unique track for sure. It is not like Chicago was a couple of weeks ago. I honestly compare it more to Texas than any other track we come to, especially 1 and 2, it is very similar to the 1 and 2 there. Texas 3 and 4 is a lot faster and higher banked. Both are recently repaved and the same surface and I think we are running the same tires. There are a lot of things we learn here that we can take to Texas in the fall. The notes I have been looking at this week have been more pertaining to Texas in the spring and getting ready for Kentucky as opposed to Kansas or Chicago or even Charlotte.”

WHAT EXCITES YOU ABOUT COMING TO KENTUCKY SPEEDWAY? “Years ago, I am probably dating myself, but when I first got into the sport this was one of the first tracks I ran. My second Busch Series race was here in 2003 I believe. Then before the testing rules and things came into effect we used to test here all the time. All the race teams did. It seemed like every week or two we were coming to Kentucky to test. For me it is cool to see the transition. You fly into Cincinnati airport and drive 30 miles here and you see things grow up. We just put a Menards store in Florence that just opened a couple weeks ago and that is cool. Seeing the transformation of the race track and what it was then and what it is now is cool. There are a lot of race fans in this area between Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. It is a good spot for a race track. It is kind of central.”

CAN YOU EVALUATE THE PLATE RACING WITH THE TAPERED SPACERS? “Yeah, it is different for sure. There are bigger runs. With the old package you had to sit there and you really had to build up some momentum. Depending on where you are on the track. This package if you are first or second you are pretty much wide open and can’t do anything without a big push from behind. The further back you get you get these huge runs and if there is a hole you have to go for it. When we went to the lead last week, the 11 just latched onto my bumper halfway down the stretch and everyone was side-drafting and there was a lane up top and we just went to the front. You get these huge runs. It is different than what it has been. We have a lot more downforce now but the cars are as out of control as they have ever been because we are all packed up and the air disturbance with the air ducts and the nose make a lot of air disturbance. It is hard to call out that I am tight and you have to free up and loose and tighten me up because it is all of those things at once.”

IS IT FUN? “The fun factor is probably higher with this package, year. It is a little hairier at times with this and at other times you feel like you can do more because you feel you can get runs. Overall, I would say it is a pretty good package.”

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