Paul Menard continues to boost Chase bid with Top-5 in Sonoma

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With 10 races remaining in the regular season, Paul Menard is doing all he can to stay in the Chase picture.

After finishing fourth last weekend at Michigan, the Richard Childress Racing driver followed that Sunday with a fifth-place performance on the road course at Sonoma.

The result enabled him to move up to 12th in the standings, and while he remains winless, he continues to stay in position to make the post-season through points.

“It was a good day,” said Menard. “We unloaded fast on Friday, and we qualified ninth. We were disappointed with ninth actually. We felt like we had a little bit better car than that.

“The first run was pretty brutal…We got really loose, and the guys tightened it up with some air pressure, and we got a lot better. From then on, we were a 10th place car probably and then drove up to [the] Top-5 with tires.”

After his Top-10 start, Menard would stay in that bracket up to his first pit stop at Lap 30 for tires, fuel, and a track bar adjustment.

From there, Menard and crew chief Slugger Labbe were able to get their final result on three additional stops in the remainder of the 110-lap event.

“I think if we had another caution come out there at the end, we could have contended for a top-three finish for sure,” Menard said. “My guys gave me great stops on pit road and helped us be where we needed in regards to track position.”

Menard continues to be the standard-bearer at RCR, and has equaled his 2013 results with his three Top-5 and nine Top-10s in the first 16 races of this season.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).