Paul Menard and the No. 21 Menards/Duracel Optimum Batteries Ford Mustang are set to start 21st in Sunday’s Gander RV 400 at Pocono Raceway.
Although starting spots won’t be official until after a pre-race inspection Sunday morning, Menard earned his provisional spot with a lap at 170.626 miles per hour during qualifying Saturday afternoon.
It was Menard’s best lap on a day that included both practice sessions and qualifying.
Drivers faced a new challenge as the 2.5-mile Tricky Triangle was treated with PJ1 traction compound for the first time, although the full effect of the treatment likely won’t be known until race time.
Menard was 15th fastest in the early morning session with a best lap at 170.074 mph, which he turned on the 13th of the 20 laps he ran.
He was 17th fastest in Happy Hour with a best lap at 169.792 mph. That came on the first of the 21 laps he completed in that session.
Menard enters Sunday’s race 19th in the points standings, 60 markers behind 16th-place Clint Bowyer.
The Gander RV 400 is set to start just after 3 p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday with TV coverage on NBCSN.