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Pit-Road Penalty Undercuts Menard's Efforts at Watkins Glen International

Pit-Road Penalty Undercuts Menard's Efforts at Watkins Glen International

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series - Watkins Glen 355
August 11, 2013 – Watkins Glen International
Paul Menard started seventh in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International. Once the initial green flag fell over the seven-turn road course, Menard kept the No. 27 SPLASH/Menards Chevrolet SS in a top-10 running position for the first 30 circuits of the 90-lap race. This was achieved by staying out through two cautions as crew chief "Slugger" Labbe stuck to his original strategy of going the distance via two pit stops. Under the first pit stop on lap 30 under green-flag conditions, Menard took on fuel and four tires with air pressure adjustments to give him more rear grip through the turns. The caution waved four laps later leaving Menard 18th in the running order. On the restart four laps later, he was up to 14th and looking to race back into the top 10. Just past the halfway point, Menard was 13th when a green-flag pit cycle started on lap 50. While making his scheduled stop on lap 59, the caution waved just as he was on pit road. Thinking he made it past the commitment line before the lights came on to keep it closed, the Menards pit crew added fuel, put on four new Goodyear tires with air pressure adjustments and made a track bar change, as well. Afterwards, NASCAR officials informed Labbe that Menard was one of four cars that passed the commitment line while the pits were closed and enforced a "tail of the longest line" penalty. This put Menard 33rd for the lap-63 restart. Eight laps later, he was up to 21st and was running there when another caution flag waved on lap 79. Being so far back in the pack, Labbe called Menard down pit road for tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments. A multi-car wreck on lap 80 caused hood and left-front fender damage to his Chevrolet. A trip down pit road to bear bond the hood and straighten the fender enough to stay off the tire had Menard lined up 28th for the lap-84 restart. When the checkered flag waved, he had battled back to finish in 17th-place. Menard remains 19th in driver championship point standings as the series heads to Michigan International Speedway next weekend.

I was very pleased with our SPLASH/Menards Chevrolet in the practices and how we qualified. For the race, we stayed in the top 10 and stuck to the pit strategy Slugger (Labbe, crew chief) had come up with. We got stuck with that penalty on pit road and that put us way back in the back. I honestly did not see any lights come on that pit road was closed, or I would have driven through and come back around. Then we got caught up in that wreck, but the crew made quick repairs and we were able to finish on the lead lap. I know we had a car much better than what the results showed. - Paul Menard

Race Notes

  • Started - 7th, Finished, - 17th,  Laps led - 0, Points - 19th
  • Following the event at Pocono Raceway, Menard sits 19th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings, 249 points back.
  • Menard gained five positions during the final 10 percent (nine laps) of the event, trying him for third in the Closers category.
  • Completing 19 passes while running in top 15, Menard ranked seventh in Quality Passes.

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