Paul Menard: winning always feels good

June 14, 2014, Paul Menard, Special to,

Richard Childress Racing driver reflects on Nationwide victory, looks ahead to Cup race

Editor's Note: Paul Menard will be chronicling his weekend at Michigan International Speedway for The Richard Childress Racing driver won Saturday's Nationwide Series Ollie's Bargain Outlet 250 in the No. 33 NIBCO/Menards Chevrolet. He will also drive the No. 27 Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Chevrolet in Sunday's Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 (1 p.m. ET, TNT).

Saturday, June 14 (all times ET)

7:00 a.m.
– Woke up and had my coffee while reading the news. Played with Remi and grabbed two hardboiled eggs and a banana for breakfast before heading out the door.

8:30 a.m. – Sprint Cup practice starts at 9:30 a.m. today and lasts for 50 minutes. During this hour before practice Slugger will update me on changes made to the Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Chevy yesterday. I also take this time to review any data the team has for me.

9:25 a.m. – During this practice session we test the changes made to switch the No. 27 Chevrolet back to racing setup. We have 50 minutes to make test different changes.

10:25 a.m. – The Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Chevy was good during practice. We were chasing the handling of the car during this session, fighting a tight-handling car. I don't have much time to talk after this session since Nationwide Series qualifying begins at 10:40 a.m. and I like to be on the grid early.

10:30 a.m. – Walk and hydrate.

10:35 a.m. – It's time to get in the car for Nationwide Series qualifying. The format will be the same as yesterday’s Sprint Cup qualifying with a 25 minute, 10 minute and five minute session. I predict we will be able to make it to the last session. You'll want to watch for strategy in the Nationwide Series qualifying as well. During the five minute breaks I typically stay in the car while my crew makes any necessary adjustments to the car.

The No. 33 NIBCO/Menards Chevrolet is ready to go for Nationwide Series qualifying
(Photo courtesy of Richard Childress Racing)

11:40 a.m. – Qualifying is over and we put the No. 33 NIBCO/Menards Chevy fifth on the board. I'll get a minute to debrief with Nick Harrison before running back to the Sprint Cup Series garage. We have the Nationwide Series driver/crew chief meeting at 12:15 p.m. so there's not too much time. I need to talk with Slugger and eat before heading to the meeting.

12:15 p.m. – Now it’s time for the Nationwide Series driver/crew chief meeting. They normally go over the same rules during the driver/crew chief meeting. Items of importance will change depending on the track.

12:30 p.m. – Sprint Cup Series final practice has started already so I run over to the garage and get in the Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Chevy. Sometimes it's hard switching gears between series but getting double the practice doesn't hurt. This session lasts until 1:20 p.m. and you will see longer practice runs.

1:25 p.m. – Final Sprint Cup practice went well. We finished in the 12th-position and have the Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Chevy in a good setup for tomorrow's race.

1:30 p.m. – Driver introductions for the Nationwide Series race start at 1:35 p.m. so I like to arrive early. Before walking on stage I talk to Mike Massaro with ESPN for an interview talking about today’s race. Once I walk across the stage I will head to the No. 33 NIBCO/Menards Chevrolet.

1:45 p.m. – Jen and Remi are on pit road next to the car when I arrive. It's a good boost to see my family before getting in the car and in the zone for the race. I also take time to talk with Nick Harrison and crew then take a picture with some NIBCO guests before getting buckled in.

Paul Menard spends a few moments with his daughter Remi before getting ready to get back in the car
(Photo courtesy of Richard Childress Racing)

2:00 p.m. – Time for 125 laps in Michigan!

4:30 p.m. – We won! It feels good to be back in Victory Lane! It's even more special with my family here to celebrate with me. Nick Harrison and the No. 33 NIBCO/Menards crew gave me a great car this weekend. It only seemed to get better. I thought I lost our chance at winning on that restart when we were shuffled back but glad we were able to contend for the win.

Victory Lane happens so fast. Live media talks to me immediately after I get out of the car. Once that's done we do group photos with the trophy. After team photos are over the guys roll the car to inspection and I take individual shots for our partners then we head to the media center. In the media center, I get to answer questions with Richard Childress and Nick Harrison for about 10 to 20 minutes.

Team owner Richard Childress, driver Paul Menard and crew chief Nick Harrison answer questions during a post-race press conference
(Photo courtesy of Richard Childress Racing)

Once media is over I get to head back and spend time with my family. There's no time for wild celebrations tonight since tomorrow is an early day. I've got to get sleep before the Sprint Cup race tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. ET. 


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