Paul Menard and his No. 21 Quick Lane team spent most of Sunday’s GEICO 500 at the Talladega Superspeedway battling back from damage to the nose of the No. 21 Mustang from a chain-reaction fender bender during a Lap 10 crash. The Quick Lane crew used numerous pit stops to repair the damage, and when the laps wound down, Menard found himself back up to speed and squarely in the middle of the race for the win.
With 30 of 188 laps remaining Menard made his strongest charge of the day, drafting his way to as high as second place on Lap 170.
He was sixth in line for a restart with four laps to go but wound up getting stuck behind Kyle Busch, who was slow getting up to speed on the restart.
With no room to get around Busch, Menard fell to the back of the lead pack but had worked his way back to 16th place when the caution flag flew for a multi-car crash on the backstretch, freezing the field at that point.
Eddie Wood said he was proud of the way that Menard, crew chief Greg Erwin and the over-the-wall crew responded to the early set-back.
“They made adjustments on the chassis to compensate for the damage to the nose of the car, but that wasn’t a long-term fix because it adversely affected the handling of the car,” Wood said. “Greg and the crew used nearly every pit stop after that to get the car fixed. Between the repairs and adjustments to the chassis, by the end of the race the car was good to go.”
Wood also expressed praise for Menard, who had to start from the rear each time the crew used extra time on pit road to work on the car but still drove his way back to the top 10, and did so under stressful conditions.
“Driving 200 miles per hour for 500 miles is commendable for Paul and for all the drivers out there,” Wood said. “We didn’t quite get the finish that Paul and the team deserved but I’m very happy with all their efforts.”
Menard and the No. 21 team will return to the track next week at Dover International Speedway.