NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500
March 17, 2013 - Bristol Motor Speedway
Paul Menard captured his second-consecutive top-10 finish after pit strategy played a key role in Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Starting from the fifth position, Menard quickly made his way into the top three 20 laps into the 500-lap event. Just a few circuits into his second green-flag run, the Wisconsin native relayed to his crew the SYLVANIA/Menards Chevrolet was tight on entry and exit through the corners. As the laps wore on, the No. 27 machine's handling appeared to get better. This proved to be a common theme throughout the day as Menard struggled with a tight condition in the beginning of a run, but saw improvement after the tires heated at the end of a run. Multiple caution periods coupled with a tight condition in the early stages of a run, caused Menard to slip back to 18th before coming to the pits on lap 350 for four tires and fuel. Shortly after exiting the pits, crew chief "Slugger" Labbe communicated to his driver he needed to save fuel. When the caution flag flew on lap 296, Labbe elected to keep his driver out of the pits, knowing the majority of the field would have to come down pit road for fuel. The fuel strategy paid off and Menard gained 12 spots to restart in second-place with less than 100 laps remaining. Though Menard was on older tires than many of his competitors, he was able to maintain his position inside the top 10 crossing the stripe in ninth. Menard's top-10 finish allowed him to gain three spots in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship points standings as he now sits in ninth heading into the 400-mile event at Auto Club Speedway next weekend.
It's great to bring home another top-10 finish this weekend. In the beginning of a run we struggled with a tight condition, but the more laps we got on our tires, the better the car would handle. We got shuffled back in the field near the middle portion of the race, but 'Slugger' Labbe (crew chief) did a great job with fuel strategy and we made the right call at the end to stay out, allowing us to gain track position. It turned out to be a great day for the SYLVANIA/Menards crew. We've got some more momentum heading into Fontana. Hopefully, we can keep our top-10 streak alive out in California. - Paul Menard