Paul Menard and the No. 21 Menard/Knauf Ford teams are gearing up for one of the signature events of the Monster Energy Cup Series schedule – the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“The night race at Bristol is always one of the highlights of the season,” Menard said. “It’s usually a good race, and it’s a great atmosphere. I look forward to it.”
He has good reason to feel good about racing on the fast, high-banked half-mile concrete oval.
“It’s always been a pretty good track for me,” he said.
In 22 career Cup starts at Bristol, Menard has six top-10 starts and six top-10 finishes and his 104 laps led there are more than at any other track. He’s also been running at the finish of every Cup race he’s ever started at Bristol.
In this year’s spring race at Bristol, Menard started seventh and was running third on Sunday when rains pushed the remainder of the race to Monday. With the cooler conditions on Monday, he didn’t run quite as well and wound up 13th at the finish. But he believes his success that Sunday, when conditions were warmer, bodes well for this weekend.
“I don’t think we’ll need to change a whole lot on the car to be competitive Saturday night,” he said.
Menard said one of the things he and the Menards/Knauf team will have to consider is how much traction compound is applied to the track and where on the track it’s applied.
“The race strategy will depend a lot on that,” he said, adding that tires generally last about 150 laps, which opens up more options on pit strategy as the race goes on.
“That’s a lot of laps on a set of tires, so it allows you to short pit or long pit.
“But whatever pit strategy you choose, track position is going to be important.”
Qualifying for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race is set for Friday at 5:40 p.m. Eastern Time and the race is scheduled to start just after 7:30 p.m. with TV coverage for both events on NBCSN.
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