Chat with Paul Menard
Menard looks to become just the second driver to repeat in the Brickyard 400.
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, we'll have driver of NASCAR's Sprint Cup No. 27 car Paul Menard of Richard Childress Racing stops by to chat prior to this weekend's Crown Royal presents the Curtiss Shaver 400 at the Brickyard race (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN).
Menard, currently 15th in the points standings, won last year's Brickyard 400 for the first win of his career. He made a final pass with four laps to go before holding off Jeff Gordon for the victory, making him one of five first-time winners in 2011.
Last year, a career-best 8 top-10s and 4 top-5s helped Menard to a 17th-place ranking, the best finish in his five full seasons in Sprint Cup.
Send your questions now and join Menard Friday at 2:15 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (2:12 PM)
We've got Paul!
Joseph (Old Orchard Beach, ME)
What's the most challenging part of racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
Paul Menard (2:12 PM)
Probably the changing track conditions. It's probably the most temperature sensitive track we go to. The sun comes out or the clouds cover, it changes quite a bit.
Marcie (St. Louis)
Any unique experiences or special opportunities come your way in the days and weeks following your win last year?
Paul Menard (2:13 PM)
Probably the most unique experience was going up to the ESPN headquarters and seeing where SportsCenter is filmed and being on SportsCenter a couple of times. And a bunch of memories to go with it.
What will you strategy be on Sunday to have a chance to repeat at the Brickyard?
Paul Menard (2:14 PM)
We've done all we can at this track to build a fast Chevy. It all depends on how we unload. If we unload close, then we dictate a strategy. If we don't feel we have a car to win, then we have to get more risky with fuel mileage and things like that.
how's this season going?
Paul Menard (2:15 PM)
We're more consistent than a year ago, but overall we've lacked the speed. We've been finishing races better, but we need to find more speed in the cars and when we run we can compete for wins.
Paul Menard (2:15 PM)
That goes for all of the RCR cars, we feel we're off just a little bit.
How special was it for the Brickyard to be yoru first win?
Paul Menard (2:16 PM)
The Brickyard is the No. 1 race that I've got circled every year. Any win would be meaningful, but to have it be the first one, it's special. As any race driver would agree, you get one, you want the second one.
do you like your position in the standings?
Paul Menard (2:17 PM)
Right around us in points are four guys with one race win, so essentially we're behind them in points. In order for us to get in the Chase, we need a win maybe even two. As far as us racing the way into the Top 10 to make the Chase, we're far from that, so we have to go for race wins.
how do you get more speed?
Paul Menard (2:18 PM)
Developing theories. Testing. The RCR engine package that we have right now has been good. So trying to get the engines better. Maximizing what the tires give us. Maximizing the bars to make the tires work better.
James (Rochester, NY)
What will be one of the biggest challenges for you as the defending winner of the Brickyard 400?
Paul Menard (2:19 PM)
It's hard to predict what the car is going to do, how the race is going to play out. It's an ever evolving question we ask throughout the race. It's hard to answer sitting here, because if we knew, we wouldn't fight it during the race. During the race we'll know how we have to tighten the car or loosen the car.
Frank Travers, IV (North Carolina)
Would you say that you are a dedicated Chevrolet Driver?
Paul Menard (2:20 PM)
All my personal vehicles are GM products. It's kind of what I grew up on. My dad has always had Silverados. My brothers, cousins have always had Chevy products. I've always had the bowtie in my family.
Robert (Matthews, NC)
What is it like to know that you have teammates who have had great careers in Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick? Go27!
Paul Menard (2:21 PM)
You can always go to one of the veterans in the series and talk to them. Kevin is as competitive as ever. Jeff, if you talk to him, all of us at RCR feel like we need to get better. But if you do have questions, you have two great teammates to bounce questions off of.
James Piccarreto (Rochester, NY)
What did you learn from last year's race that might help you gain this year?
Paul Menard (2:22 PM)
That's kind of a tough question, because until we get on track with the Cup cars, it's hard to predict what we'll be fighting. It's hard to figure that out in the shop. The track has changed in a year. The cars have changed. It's all different. We don't know what we'll fight until we get there.
other than Indy, what's your favorite track?
Paul Menard (2:23 PM)
There is really none that I dislike. Probably the most fun track that we go to to just drive is Darlington. And the road courses are fun. It's different. Atlanta is another fun track to race at.
should a raoad course be in the ChasE?
Paul Menard (2:24 PM)
Yeah, I think so. We crown our champion on the last 10 races, but you have to get in there first. I think the champion needs to be good on every course we go to, including road courses. I'm on board with that.
Emmitt west (virginia)
What happens if you are in the lead with about 5 lap to go and you are on worn tires and have low fuel what would you do pit or stay out and risk it?
Paul Menard (2:25 PM)
That reminds me of last year. We through caution to the wind and gambled and made it. You have to stay out.
Paul Menard (2:25 PM)
Thanks for tuning in!