MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
GO BOWLING 400
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
MAY 11, 2017
PAUL MENARD, NO. 27 FVP/MENARDS CHEVROLET SS met with media and discussed his team’s season to date, racing at Kansas, his intermediate track program, his view of night racing and road course racing, and more. Full Transcript:
COMING OFF A 9TH PLACE FINISH AT TALLADEGA LAST WEEKEND, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT BRINGING THAT MOMENTUM WITH YOU TO KANSAS SPEEDWAY?
“Oh, well it’s a totally different race track, obviously. But, we’ve struggled with some finishes this year, for sure; so getting a solid top 10 last week was a good momentum-booster. Kansas has always been a really good track for us. We’ve led laps here and been top 5 a few times and had good runs, so I’m definitely looking forward to getting back on a 1.5-mile track and seeing where our program is. We struggled at some early 1.5-miles (like) Atlanta; we had a really good run going at Las Vegas until we had some circumstances. So, I’m looking forward to getting back on it at Kansas and seeing what we’ve got.”
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF KANSAS SPEEDWAY? WHAT DO YOU ENJOY ABOUT THIS TRACK?
“Well, normally….the fall race is a day race so I bring my daughter and she loves it here with the playground and basketball courts. My wife is from Iowa, close by, so we get to see some family. But, this weekend being a night race, my family didn’t come with me. I just enjoy the surface. It’s aging. It makes really good racing. The old surface was really worn out and slippery. Then they paved it and it took a few years, but now you can run all over the track. So, it makes for a really fun race as a driver and a fan.”
THIS IS MOTHER’S DAY WEEKEND. DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS FOR MOTHER’S DAY? ALSO, HOW DO YOU RATE YOUR PERFORMANCE SO FAR THIS SEASON?
“I think my wife booked a brunch for us on Sunday. We’ll get back late, obviously, on Saturday night, but we’ll get a couple of hours of sleep and go get a good brunch with her. Outside of that, we have no plans; just hanging out at the house. It’s hard to rate out season. We’re 24th or 25th in points, so we need a win to get in the playoffs at this point. I don’t think we can point our way in. So, we’ve got to roll the dice and make some things happen. It’s been a pretty disappointing year for sure, but there’s a lot of promise with Ryan (Newman) winning at Phoenix. They pulled some strategy to get a win and I feel like we can do the same thing.”
REGARDING HIS INTERMEDIATE TRACK PROGRAM
“Honestly our intermediate track program has probably been our weakest link. We’ve been fairly strong on the short tracks. At Martinsville we had a good car and got hung out at the end. But at Bristol we definitely had a top 10 going. Richmond, we just missed it. But, intermediate tracks have historically been my strength and this year they’ve been my weakness. That’s another reason why I’m looking forward to getting back on track and trying some different things from what we’ve learned at the previous intermediates to go all-out this weekend.”
THIS IS PRETTY LATE IN THE SEASON TO HAVE A NIGHT RACE. NORMALLY BY THIS TIME WE’VE HAD MORE. DO YOU LIKE NIGHT RACES EARLIER IN THE SEASON OR DO YOU WISH WE STILL HAD MORE OF A VARIETY THERE?
“I like night races. Usually a night race means that we get a Sunday off. So, it’s always good to get a day at home with the family. So that’s cool. I like night races from the standpoint that it’s just a different excitement factor, I think, with the sparks flying and it’s more like a Saturday night race. Most of us grew up doing was racing on Friday and Saturday nights. So it kind of throws it back a little bit. And then, the Sundays are obviously an added bonus. But, I wish we had more Saturday night races for sure.”
“When it’s night out, it’s cooler, obviously. But the fall race is generally fairly cool here in October. So, the temperature doesn’t play a whole lot; it’s just how the sun hits the race track. There is usually more grip in the spring night race and a little more slippery in the fall. It seems like the fall race is always really windy, too, and this is one of the worst tracks for wind. The way the wind hits the track I think comes from Turn 3, Turn 4, and there’s no grandstands there or signage or anything to block the wind so it’s probably the worst track for wind as far as affecting the cars.”
LOOKING AHEAD TO CHARLOTTE, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT GOING THERE AND BEING BACK HOME FOR A COUPLE OF WEEKS?
“Obviously, the All-Star weekend is always a fun weekend. We get to roll the dice and just try some different out-of-the-box things and try to learn for the next weekend. It’s almost like a test session. I don’t know what they call it now, but we’ll be in the Showdown, I guess on Saturday to transfer into the All-Star race and I feel really good about what we’re attempting to try. There are very minimal things on the race car obviously, like all of our cooling systems and things will be taken out. We’ll be trying to get as light as we can and we’ll see what we can learn with the set-up (like) maybe try a different spindle or some different out-of-the-box ideas that we want to apply but that we really can’t because we can’t test. So, it’s going to be hit or miss.”
DO YOU GUYS FEEL THAT YOU HAVE IMPROVED THIS SEASON COMPARED TO LAST, OR DO YOU FEEL LIKE THE COMPETITION HAS REALLY CAUGHT-UP AND TEAMS ARE GETTING BETTER THAT WEREN’T SO GOOD LAST YEAR?
“The competition is as good as it’s ever been, I think, right now. Ganassi has emerged from the last couple of years. I think Ganassi is really a strong team. Obviously you have the Hendricks and Penske and Gibbs. Gibbs doesn’t seem to be as strong this year. We’re in the mix. We’re at like the ‘B-level’; we need to get up to the A-level. And then you see teams like Front Row Motorsports, which I think they’ve improved and they’re competing for top 20’s now. Furniture Row, with the second car, is very competitive. I think the whole competiveness of the field is greater now than it has been the last few years.”
THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF CHATTER ABOUT WHAT WE CAN EXPECT FOR 2018 AS FAR AS THE SCHEDULE. THERE HAS BEEN TALK AND HOPE THAT WE GET A ROAD COURSE RACE SOMEWHERE IN CHARLOTTE OR MAYBE EVEN INDY AS PART OF THE WEEKEND. WOULD YOU BE OPEN TO HAVING A ROAD COURSE IN THE PLAYOFFS EVEN IF IT WAS AT CHARLOTTE?
“Yeah, I love road racing. It’s kind of my background. Actually I didn’t run my first oval until I was 16 and I was racing for eight years at that point. But if I did 34 road course races a year and two ovals, I’d want more ovals. So, I think we need a better mix of it. I’ve never been around the road course at Charlotte. I’ve seen it. I drove around it and saw the Christmas lights. But, I don’t know how that is for a race track. Obviously it’s a great surface for Legends Cars and maybe some sports cars and things, but I don’t know how a stock car race would go there. I know they had a successful test with AJ (Allmindinger) there over the winter. I think there are a lot of really great road courses in America that would lend us to not have to go to the Charlotte road course, but a road course is a road course and I’m all for it.”