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PHOENIX -- Enjoying a career season to date, Paul Menard enters this weekend’s SUBWAY Fresh Fit 600 at Phoenix International Raceway with some past success in the Grand Canyon State. Menard sat down with Ford Racing to discuss how victories in the Grand-Am and the NASCAR Southwest Tour Series in 2002 might help him this weekend, how Phoenix stacks up with other short tracks, and how he likes the flat surface in the desert.
Q. DOES YOUR PAST SUCCESS IN NON-STOCK CAR RACES IN PHOENIX HELP YOU OUT FOR THIS WEEK AT ALL?
A. I don’t think it translates to these cars a whole lot. Where it does help is with track knowledge. I won once on the road course and also finished third on the road course and won in the Southwest Tour series in a late model. They have since changed turn two, so it is a different animal and these cars are bigger, heavier and have more horsepower. Track knowledge and getting the feel that you need out of a car to run fast is an advantage though.
Q. ARE THERE ANY PARTICULAR CHALLENGES TO PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY?
A. It is one of my favorite race tracks actually. The biggest challenge is the turns. If you are good in one and two, you are usually not good in three and four, and vice-versa. There is a compromise there and you have to adjust to get them to both work as good as you can.
Q. PHOENIX IS CONSIDERED A SHORT TRACK, BUT HAS SOME CHARACTERISTICS OF A SPEEDWAY, HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR THAT?
A. Yeah, parts of it run just like a short track and parts of it run like a speedway. The thing we try to remember is that you can move your line around a lot, especially in one and two. You can get the high-line going good and get momentum going off the corner much like you would at Atlanta. On the other hand, it is a short track, so we have to remember that we’ll be in traffic all day long and we’ll be banging.
Q. WHAT IS THE BIGGEST ADJUSTMENT FOR YOU GOING FROM BRISTOL AND MARTINSVILLE TO PHOENIX?
A. Martinsville and Bristol were our first two short track races of the year, and we consider Phoenix to be a short track, so we will take a lot of the things we have learned the past two races and try to apply them. The big things we will take from the last two races are how to get the car to turn in the center and how to get drive off the corner. That’s what will apply to Phoenix, and, hopefully, we can just keep the ball rolling.