A Look Ahead for Menards Racing
CORNELIUS, N.C. (January 1, 2008) -- With a familiar group of drivers participating in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and Indy Car Series, Menards Racing looks ahead to the 2009 racing season with a combination of excitement and hope.
As drivers Paul Menard, Matt Crafton, Robby Gordon, and Ed Carpenter individually prepare for a New Year full of possibilities, from Charlotte, North Carolina to Sandusky, Ohio and across to Indianapolis, their teams work behind the scenes in the winter months to build fast racecars and trucks that will ideally put Menards in victory lane.
Stay tuned throughout 2009 for continual updates on all the Menards Racing drivers as they compete for their respective series' championships.
Paul Menard -- Yates Racing, No. 98 Menards Ford Fusion -- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
The thrill of joining Yates Racing during the off season catapults Paul Menard into his third full season of 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup competition.
"Yates Racing is a smaller team in terms of people and cars, but the resources they have at their disposal are in line with all of the big teams," said Menard. "I'm excited to get working with Larry Carter and everyone to see what we can do."
With the team's resources, one thing in particular comes to mind as a key to Menard's 2009 success. Horsepower.
"I'm looking forward to getting into these cars, which have a proven track record, not to mention the Roush-Yates horsepower," added Menard, who last season won his first Sprint Cup Series pole at Daytona in July. "But first, I'm just looking to get the season going in Daytona and set off on the right foot. The Brickyard 400 is always the highlight of my season, though."
As a result of the NASCAR ban on testing at sanctioned tracks, Yates Racing and driver Paul Menard plan to prepare for the season in their own unique ways.
"We'll still do some testing at non-sanctioned tracks so Larry and I can get our communication going before the start of the season," Menard continued. "Other than that, we'll rely heavily on the simulation programs and for me, I'm doing all I can to get ready physically and mentally by working out and playing as much racquetball as I can."
Robby Gordon -- No. 7 Menards Toyota Camry -- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Always busy, regardless of the time of year, Menards Racing driver Robby Gordon will embark on his fifth year of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition as the owner/driver of the No. 7 Menards entry. This week, however, he is starting the Dakar Rally, which will begin and end in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
When Cup competition resumes for 2009, Gordon will roll into Daytona Int'l Speedway with a new partner in Toyota, and as always, he looks forward to success.
"We are excited to be partnering with Toyota in NASCAR in 2009. After watching their progress last season, we decided that a switch to Toyota was the right package for our team," commented Gordon. "We are confident that fielding a Toyota Camry will add to the success of our organization and the competitiveness of our performance on the race track."
Gordon has driven Menards-sponsored race cars in since 1999 when he came within a lap of winning the prestigious Indianapolis 500.
Matt Crafton -- No. 88 Menards Chevrolet Silverado -- NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
During what turned out to be Matt Crafton's best season to date in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competition, Crafton put the Menards Chevy Silverado in Victory Lane at Charlotte this past May. It was a win Crafton would savor, coming in the racing capital of NASCAR and one that catapulted the No. 88 team to championship contender status for the remainder of the season.
Looking ahead to 2009, Crafton's biggest goal is to earn more wins for Menards Racing.
"I'm definitely looking forward to 2009 and the chance to contend for the Truck Series Championship," said Crafton. "But specifically, I want to put up some more numbers in the win column this year."
Crafton will continue to work with Crew Chief Bud Haefele, who will lead Crafton's ThorSport team for the fourth year.
"Bud and I have been working together for four years and we definitely have our working relationship established," explained Crafton. "He's a serious racer and I know that he's working as hard as he can this off season to build fast race trucks."
While Crafton says there are quite a few tracks he's fond of, the one track he's most excited to visit in Charlotte Motor Speedway.
"Going back to Charlotte as the defending race winner will definitely be a high point of the season," said Crafton.
Ed Carpenter --No. 20 Menards Honda -- Indy Car Series
After a mixed bag of results during the 2008 season, Indy Car driver Ed Carpenter feels confident the team has plenty to build on in 2009. While the Menards driver for Vision Racing earned season best 5th place finishes in the March IRL opener at Homestead, as well as the prestigious Indy 500 in May, Carpenter felt there were several races that could have resulted in a win if circumstances were different.
"I definitely feel like we left quite a bit on the table, so we have areas to improve on this season," said Carpenter. "Japan was one of the events where if it weren't' for a mechanical failure with the cracked header, we would've won."
As Carpenter looks ahead to 2009, he eagerly awaits the event at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan.
"I always enjoy racing at Japan," explained Carpenter. "Based on last year's results and the fact that we nearly won that race, I believe we should be contention for a win there this year."
His key team personnel will remain the same in 2009, with the No. 20 team determined to contend for wins throughout the 17-race season.
Off track, Carpenter and his wife Heather will welcome their second child in June. The couple already has a 15-month old daughter, Makenna.