NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Southern 500
May 11, 2013 - Darlington Raceway
Starting from the 15th position, Paul Menard and the No. 27 Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Chevrolet faced handling issues throughout the 367-lap event, earning a 19th-place finish at Darlington Raceway. Shortly after the green flag flew, Menard began to struggle with a loose-handling condition and crew chief "Slugger" Labbe called for a variety of chassis adjustments during the ensuing pit stops. By lap 185 the series of track bar, wedge and air pressure adjustments provided some relief to Menard and he was running in the 12th position. Though running inside the top 15, long green flag runs, coupled with a loose race car, caused the Wisconsin native to fall a lap down to the leader on lap 271. Shortly after losing a lap, Menard came into the pits for four tires, fuel and a spring rubber adjustment. Upon entry to pit road, Menard struck the commitment cone and was assessed a pass though penalty causing him to fall to 22nd, three laps down to the leader. A series of caution flags followed in the closing laps of the 501-mile event, allowing Menard to take the "wave around" on two separate occasions. Gaining two of his laps back, Menard and crew never gave up and he was able to fight his way back inside the top-20 to finish 19th when the checkered flag flew. Menard now sits in 11thin the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.
It was a tough night for the No. 27 Pittsburgh Paints/Menards crew. We struggled with handling issues for the majority of the day, and I put us behind late with a pit road penalty. Slugger (Labbe, crew chief) made adjustments all night and we were able to catch a break at the end with those caution flags to get a couple of our laps back. We'll learn from tonight and move on to Charlotte next weekend, try to have some fun and race our way into the big show (All-Star Race) on Saturday night. - Paul Menard