Paul Menard and the No. 21 Menards/Sylvania team are headed to Menard’s home track, Chicagoland Speedway, for Sunday’s Overton’s 400.
While Chicagoland, in Joliet, Ill., is technically the home track for someone from Menard’s hometown of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, it’s not exactly nearby.
“It’s the closest Cup track to my hometown, but it’s still a six-hour drive away,” Menard said.
“But it’s always exciting to run at your home track.”
Menard said he likes racing at Chicagoland, and he said that while it looks like other tracks of similar size and shape, it is different.
“It’s a good track,” he said. “It has a worn-out surface and a lot of character.
“It looks like your standard tri-oval, mile-and-a-half track, but it’s unique. The backstretch is kind of curved, and it has some bumps and other features that separate it from the other tracks.”
Menard said the track has been a good one for him over the years, and he’s looking forward to getting to race on it in the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Ford Fusion.
He said that despite a disappointing 26th-place finish a week ago at Sonoma Raceway, he’s confident his team can repeat – or even better – the results of the four races leading up to Sonoma, where he scored finishes of sixth, 14th, 11th, and fifth, at Kansas, Charlotte, Pocono and Michigan, respectively.
“We’re in the ballpark,” he said. “We just need to keep chipping away at it, continue to improve, find our weaknesses and eliminate them.”
Menard said a test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this week should go a long way toward helping the team meet its immediate goals.
“The test at Indy should give us a chance to work on some things,” he said.
Qualifying for the Overton’s 400 is set for Saturday at 7:05 p.m. Eastern Time, and the race is scheduled to start just after 2:30 p.m., with TV coverage of qualifying and the race on NBCSN.