When Paul Menard hits the track at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend he’ll be venturing into relatively uncharted territory.
For starters, the veteran driver of the No. 21 Quick Lane Ford Fusion hasn’t raced at the Fort Worth track in a Ford in several seasons. And like his fellow drivers he’ll be racing on an evolving track surface as this weekend’s Monster Energy Cup race is just the third on the track since it was repaved before last year’s races at the Fort Worth quad-oval track.
“There will be a lot of unknowns,” Menard said. “The repave of the track changed it a lot.
“The first race it was single groove and if you got out of the groove there was not a lot of leeway. It was treacherous. It was a lot better last fall, and I anticipate it being better this time. But you really don’t know what to expect.”
Returning to the track as the driver of a Ford Fusion is a plus, Menard said.
“The intermediate tracks are the strong suit right now for our No. 21 team for sure,” he said.
“And all the Fords were good at Texas last year, so we should have a good database to work from.”
Menard, who has 23 career Cup starts at Texas with one top-five finish and two other top 10s, said the 1.5-mile track is a tricky one to tune a chassis for due to the differences in Turns One and Two, which have 20 degrees of banking, while Turns Three and Four have 24.
“You have to set up for Three and Four, and that’s not ideal for One and Two,” he said.
“There’s definitely a compromise there, but I feel good about our chances this weekend.”
Cup Series qualifying at Texas Motor Speedway is set for Friday at 4:45 p.m. (5:45 p.m. Eastern Time), and Sunday’s race is scheduled to start just after 1 p.m. (2 p.m. Eastern) with TV coverage on Fox Sports 1.