Paul Menard and the Moen/Menards Chevrolet team were plagued with handling issues throughout the 400-lap race that extended into the early Sunday morning hours under the lights of Richmond International Raceway, resulting in a 23rd-place finish. The start of the Federated Auto Parts 400 was delayed due to inclement weather in the greater Richmond, Va. area, but when the green flag was displayed, Menard started the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event from the 25th position and quickly drove the Moen/Menards Chevrolet into the top 20. The momentum was short lived as the No. 27 machine developed a tight-handling condition in the center of the turns.
Falling back to the 23rd position in the running order, acting crew chief Shane Wilson called for a series of chassis and air pressure adjustments in an effort to neutralize the car’s balance. Long green-flag runs allowed the leader to pass the Moen/Menards Chevrolet and a green-flag pit stop on lap 132 just before the lap-135 caution trapped the Eau Claire, Wis., native two laps down to the leader, in the 29th position. The Wilson-led team opted to take the wave around and regained one lap; however, as the field lined up for the ensuing restart, rain began to fall once again, resulting in a 51 minute red-flag period.
When green-flag racing resumed, handling issues continued to torment the 32-year old driver. Numerous chassis and air pressure adjustments during routine pit stops offered little relief to the challenges Menard faced as he wheeled the No. 27 machine around the 0.75-mile short track. With only 11 cars on the lead lap at the checkered flag, Menard was scored in the 23rd position at the finish.
Start – 25
Finish – 23
Laps Led – 0
Points – 17th
PAUL MENARD QUOTE: “We just couldn’t quite find the right adjustments tonight to help the Moen/Menards Chevrolet. We struggled with drive off and tightened the car up a little too much. It’s not the finish we hoped for, but these guys never gave up. This team has worked extremely hard all year and we were in contention again for a Wild Card berth in the Chase (for the NASCAR Sprint Cup). We’ll continue to go to the track every weekend with the goal of getting a win.”