Paul Menard and the No. 21 Menards/Dutch Boy Mustang have earned the 16th starting spot for Saturday night’s Digital Ally 400 at Kansas Speedway.
Menard, who was 19th fastest in Friday’s opening practice with a best lap at 175.816 and 24th in Happy Hour with a lap at 175.638 mph, upped his speed to 176.217 mph in qualifying.
In a media session at Kansas prior to qualifying, Menard offered his insights on Saturday’s race.
“I think tomorrow night you will see that there are a couple cars that kind of stood out that could potentially get away from the pack, but outside of that it is going to be double-file and three or four-wide on restarts and then it will start to single out,” he said. “Tires will come into play. We put new tires on and it handled way better than it did with 30-lap tires. It is all part of the deal.”
He said he was surprised to see cars up against the outside wall early in the race weekend.
“We are wide-open around the bottom, and you could go wide-open there and wide-open around the top but the top came in pretty good,” Menard said. “It keeps momentum up. In the past you could run about three or four laps on the bottom and then stick it to the wall. I think you will have more options but I think the top will still be preferred.”
But he said that with this year’s higher downforce/lower horsepower package, it’s hard to say exactly how Saturday’s 400-miler will play out.
“Our notes from last year at Kansas and years past – we have been racing here a long time – the track has certain trends and usually frees up when the sun goes down,” he said. “With this package, we don’t know what it is going to do. It could free up or maybe the package lends itself to be tighter, we just don’t know. I guess what we learned [in practice] is that we don’t know.”
Menard and the Menards/Dutch Boy team will find out how the package plays out when the green flag drops at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time. FOX Sports 1 will carry the TV broadcast.