Paul Menard and the No. 27 Quaker State/Menards team survived a wild night under the lights at Daytona International Speedway to finish 14th in the Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola. After starting the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race from the 13th position, Menard dropped back in the running order in an effort to maintain safe engine temperatures. Battling a tight-handling condition on the exit of the corners during the majority of the 160-lap affair, the Slugger Labbe-led crew made air pressure adjustments during routine pit stops to improve the car’s balance.
During the lap-124 caution period, Labbe called for a two-tire pit stop to gain track position, advancing the No. 27 Chevrolet to the 11th spot for the restart on lap 130. The Eau Claire, Wis., native drove the Richard Childress Racing machine into the top 10 two laps later, where he remained until he was caught up in a multi-car incident on lap 153, bringing out the caution flag. Menard made several trips down pit road for repairs to the green and yellow Chevrolet during the ensuing caution period and lined up in the 22nd position for the two-lap dash to the checkered flag.
A multi-car pileup occurred as the field exited turn four on the final lap and Menard was able to maneuver through the melee to bring home a 14th-place finish. Menard remains 13th in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings, 65 points out of the final Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup spot.
Start – 13
Finish – 14
Laps Led – 0
Points – 13
PAUL MENARD QUOTE: “It’s frustrating to have to ride around in the back and wait until the end to drive to the front, but that’s what we had to do to keep the temperatures on our Quaker State/Menards Chevrolet at a safe level. The big wrecks happened with 10 laps to go, and we got caught up in the first one. Fortunately, the damage wasn’t too bad and the guys on the No. 27 team did a great job making repairs on pit road. Luckily, that put us in the back for the restart and we stayed out of the last big mess to finish in the top 15.”