Paul Menard and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team, fresh off a strong run in the Advance Auto Parts Clash, are set to officially kick off their 2019 campaign in Thursday’s Gander RV Duel qualifying races.
Menard, who led a Clash-record 51 laps last Sunday, will be back in his Daytona 500 Mustang for the first of two 150-mile qualifying races that will set the field for Sunday’s Daytona 500.
Menard starts sixth in the first Duel after qualifying 11th this past Sunday.
Eddie Wood said he likes what he’s seen of his team so far this Speedweeks.
“I was really proud of Paul and how he ran on Sunday,” Wood said. “The new Mustang is impressive. We had some new people on the team and they did a good job. We had a good pit stop in the Clash, and we all think our new spotter, Joey Meier, is going to be a great addition to the 21 team.”
Wood said how the team fares in Thursday evening’s 150-miler will determine how the rest of the week goes.
“After you run the qualifier, depending on how you run and how things unfold, you’ll know what to work on in practice on Friday,” he said.
And, like last year, there will be points to be earned in the Duels. The top-10 finishers in each Duel will receive Stage points like in a regular points race, with the winner earning 10 Stage points and the 10th-place driver earning one.
“We’ve all come to understand how important each Stage point can be,” Wood said.
Likewise, the Duels offer the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team a chance to show some hospitality to some of the people from Ford Motor Company and others who make their racing possible.
“We’re looking forward to having Mr. Edsel Ford and Mr. John Menard with us,” Wood said. “It’s always an honor to have them with us wherever we are, but having them at Daytona International Speedway is extra special.”
The Gander RV Duels are scheduled to start at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 14, with TV coverage on Fox Sports 1, and the green flag for the Daytona 500 is set to fly at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 17, at 2:30 p.m., with TV coverage on FOX.