This weekend’s Gander Outdoors 400 at Pocono Raceway offers Paul Menard and the No. 21 Menards/Libman team a first of sorts.
“It’s the first track we’ve been to besides Daytona for the second time as a group,” Menard said of himself and his team, which began working together at the start of this season. “Daytona is its own deal, but this weekend we will have a chance to work off our own notes from the race at Pocono in June.
“We had a good run at the start and then got off a little bit. We kept working on it and got the thing pretty fast and passed a lot of cars at the end.”
Menard restarted near the rear of the pack late in the Pocono 400 and drove up to 11th place at the finish.
He’s looking for even better results this time.
“There are a lot of things we learned before that will apply this time,” he said. “I’m excited about going back.”
Menard also said the battle for one of the 16 playoff berths will be on his mind this weekend, but he’s not planning to let that dictate how he races.
He enters the weekend 17th in the points standings and 29 points behind Alex Bowman, who holds the final spot in the playoff standings. Menard is now within one point of Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who holds the 16th position in the overall points standings. There are six regular season races left before the start of the 10-race, season-ending playoffs.
“We’re aware of where everybody around us is in points,” he said, adding that he and the Menards/Libman team won’t base their strategy decisions on what those around them in the standings do. “We’re just going to do our jobs and try to click off top-15 and top-10 finishes, even some top-fives.
“If we do that, the points will take care of themselves.”
Qualifying for the Gander Outdoors 400 is set for Saturday at 4:10 p.m. Eastern Time and the race is scheduled to start just after 2:30 p.m. Sunday with TV coverage for both events on NBCSN.