As Paul Menard heads into the final seven weeks of his time as a full-time driver in the Monster Energy Cup Series, it’s been on his mind that he’ll likely never again drive a Cup car on the tracks remaining on the schedule.
“I think about it some,” he said. “There are some I’ll miss more than others, and Dover is one of those I’ll probably miss.”
Menard, who will drive the No. 21 Menards/Cardell Cabinets Ford Mustang in the Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway this weekend, said the one-mile, high-banked concrete oval has many of the characteristics that he’s come to appreciate over his 16-year, 464-race career in the elite NASCAR division.
“It’s a cool track,” he said. “It’s a unique, high-speed track. There’s nothing like it. Bristol is the closest.”
Menard said that based on the speed the No. 21 Mustang has shown the past few weeks he believes the Menards/Cardell team is poised for a strong performance in this weekend’s 400-miler.
“We’ve hit on a couple of things,” he said. “We ran good at Darlington and Indy back to back, and we ran in the top 10 for most of the day at Charlotte before we got a little behind and wound up having to go to the back late in the race.”
Menard also said that while many of the teams in the playoffs have stepped up their performances since the 10-race run for the championship began three weeks ago, the playoff teams aren’t the only ones running better.
“Everybody is learning more about this [handling] package,” he said. “A lot of teams are getting better and better.”
Qualifying at Dover is scheduled for Saturday afternoon at 1:35, and the Drydene 400 is set to start just after 2:30 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on NBCSN.