Mr. Menard, meet Mr. Borland

Paul Menard meets with the media Wednesday during the 2017 Media Tour in Charlotte (Greg Engle)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – In a late-season move in early November, Richard Childress Racing hired veteran Matt Borland as crew chief of the No. 27 Chevrolet driven by Matt Borland.

Though Borland had worked extensively with Menard’s teammate, Ryan Newman, dating to Newman’s days at Team Penske, Menard and Borland didn’t know each other, but that’s a situation both driver and crew chief have been working hard to correct.

“Every time Matt and I spend time together, I get more impressed with him,” Menard said. “We’ve spent quite a bit of time together in the offseason, more so than a normal driver-crew chief relationship, I think, just because we don’t know each other. We made an effort from early November to current to just talk all the time, get lunch, get breakfast, do walk-throughs at the shop.

“He has a particular way about asking questions. He knows the answer, but he’s going to ask you the question to see how you perceive it, and he’s always pushing you to think outside the box a little bit. I’m really looking forward to working with him. We have a really good team built. He’s brought some new guys, and I’m looking forward to getting to know them better throughout the year. I’m looking forward to good things.”

With Borland on the pit box, Menard is looking for improvement this season. In 2016, for the first since 2009, he failed to post a top five in a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. Menard’s only victory in the series came in the 2011 Brickyard 400.

TWO NASCAR SAFETY EXPERTS EARN HIGH HONORS

SAE International will honor two NASCAR safety experts with the Ralph H. Isbrandt Automotive Safety Engineering Award.

John Patalak, senior director of safety engineering, NASCAR Research and Development; and Tom Gideon, recently retired senior director of safety engineering, NASCAR Research Development and Safety, will be honored for their SAE International technical paper, “Development and Implementation of a Quasi-Static Test for Seat Integrated Seat Belt Restraint System Anchorages.”

The two will receive their awards during the SAE 2017 Government/Industry Meeting, Jan. 25-27, in Washington, D.C.

Patalak’s work at NASCAR includes researching, developing and approving driver and vehicle safety systems and investigating vehicle crashworthiness and occupant protection issues. Prior to NASCAR, he worked for an engineering consulting firm specializing in vehicle crashworthiness and occupant protection.

Gideon retired in 2016, having joined NASCAR in 2009 as director, safety research and development; before that, he served as safety manager for GM Racing with General Motors.

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