Paul Menard and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion will have to start Sunday’s 400-miler at Pocono Raceway from the middle of the pack, but all indications are that they won’t be there long.
Menard was ninth fastest in Friday’s practice session with a best lap at 174.700 miles per hour.
He was a solid 16th in the first of three rounds of knock-out qualifying with a speed of 174.250 mph. But he slipped a bit in the second round, running his lap at 173.675 mph, which means he will start 20th on Sunday.
“The car was just a little too free going into Turn One in the second round,” Eddie Wood said.
“The important thing is the car is fast, so we should be fine on Sunday.”
Wood said race teams initially were concerned about weather impacting the weekend schedule, but he said that by the end of the day Friday it looked like the rain chances at Pocono won’t be any greater than they are on any other Pocono weekend. Rain showers can pop up any time in that area.
“Everybody was worried about rain, but it looks like that’s gone away,” Wood said.
The second and final practice session of the weekend is set for Saturday at 11 a.m., and Pocono 400 is scheduled to start just after 2 p.m. Eastern Time.
The Motorcraft/Quick Lane team is the defending winner of the 160-lap race with their former driver Ryan Blaney, who now drives for Team Penske, which shares an alliance with the Wood Brothers and their Motorcraft/Quick Lane team.
TV coverage of Sunday’s race will be on Fox Sports 1.
WBR PR/Photo Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images