Paul Menard, who is scheduled to run a full season in the Nationwide Series with Roush Fenway Racing, almost saw the rain end his chances of making the first race of the year.
Menard is not guaranteed a spot in the top 35 in the Nationwide Series and would have to have made the race based on his qualifying time. Then rain came, canceling qualifying and the truck race which was to happen later last night.
To determine the starting field for the race NASCAR pulled out the rule book. Below is how the field order was determined via NASCAR.com.
The lineup would be set per the rule book, with the following parameters coming into play: The top-30 owners in the 2009 standings — or teams they had “transferred” their points to — got those spots. Greg Biffle and Tony Stewart, who won races last season, got the next two positions, followed by 2000 series champion Jeff Green.
The remaining 10 spots would go to the top 10 positions in the randomly-drawn qualifying order, if they were not already in the lineup.
Ten spots remained and they went to a draw. Menard drew a number that would have him just miss the race, and then suddenly five teams who were at the track for the chance of cashing in on 45,000 went to the NASCAR hauler and withdrew from the field.
The result put Menard back in the field.
A team manager at Roush Fenway stated that he could not talk about it and that it was confidential.
While the deal may make some question what exactly is going on here I don’t think it’s entirely a bad thing. Menard plans to run the full Nationwide schedule for Roush Fenway and is expected to be a top 5 team at the end of the year. Menard finished sixth in the standings the last time he raced a full schedule. It’s also a car with sponsor’s on it (even if they were paid for by Menards dad) that would have easily made the field had their been qualifying and perhaps best of all it’s a car that will run the full race baring accident which is more then can be said for any team that went home yesterday.
Those going home probably received around 50,000 as the payout was guaranteed to be 45,000 for running the race.
If Jack Roush did pay these teams off which it seems like he did, then it will be interesting to see how much Menard can recover of the $2.5 million plus he paid out to get him in the field.
I have to admit though I suspect that Roush is playing big picture here. He knows that he’ll get well in excess the difference should Menard remain in the seat of the 98 Fusion on the Nationwide Series this year and even more should he keep a blue oval on the front of his car past this season.