Darlington: Paul Menard preview

Menard Looking Forward to Darlington Weekend Over the Wall Crew Hoping to Lock Into Pit Crew Challenge MOORESVILLE, N.C. (May 7, 2008) -- With 10 races in the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup record books, Menards Racing and the Dale Earnhardt ...

Menard Looking Forward to Darlington Weekend
Over the Wall Crew Hoping to Lock Into Pit Crew Challenge

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (May 7, 2008) -- With 10 races in the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup record books, Menards Racing and the Dale Earnhardt Inc. backed team turn it's attention to Darlington Raceway for the running of this Saturday night's Dodge Challenger 500.

"Darlington is a track that requires a lot of patience out of us drivers," Menard said. "Who knows how the new surface will react. There will be a lot of grip and I'm sure the tires will be hard as rocks so that combination leaves very little room for mistakes. You could almost flat foot turns one and two before so it's going to be hairy in qualifying, as I'm sure we'll be able to completely flat foot it now."

While many drivers are skeptical of the on track action at Darlington, Menard enjoys a chance to race at the feisty 1.366-mile egg-shaped oval.

"I'd say Darlington is right up there as one of my favorite tracks, behind only Indy and the road courses," Menard said.

Crew Chief Doug Randolph hopes his driver's affection for the track translates into race day success and perhaps the team's first top-10 finish of the season.

"For Paul to like coming here definitely helps the team feel more confident going into this weekend," Randolph said. "If a driver is comfortable with racing at Darlington it could really pay off, especially in a race as long as this one. Our goal is a top-10 finish on Saturday night."

Menard's cheering section this weekend will be led by his mother, Paula Menard, who will be in attendance for the Mother's Day weekend race. Her support of his racing is especially meaningful during the holiday dedicated to mothers.

"My mom gets to quite a few races and it's always nice to have her there, especially during Mother's Day weekend," Menard said. "Hopefully she'll get to do something cool again this year. Last year the mothers gave the command to start your engines."

Menard will battle for the win in Dale Earnhardt Inc. chassis #48 this weekend. The car was last raced at California in February and Menard hopes for great things out of his racecar seeing as how the No. 15 Menards/Nibco team is right on the bubble of competing in it's first ever pit crew challenge.

"We not confirmed in the crew challenge yet," Randolph explains. "But the cutoff is after this weekend's race at Darlington, so I hope we have a strong finish and lock ourselves in the competition. It would mean a lot to our team, since our pit crew is one of the best in the business."

The NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge will take place at Charlotte Bobcats Arena on May 15, 2008. The skills competition showcases the talents of NASCAR's pit crew members, but only certain teams are eligible for the competition. Menard will have to have a solid run at Darlington to lock his pit crew into the competition.

"I definitely want to have a strong run this weekend, and not just for myself or for our sponsors, but for our pit crew so that they can have the chance to compete in the Pit Crew Challenge," Menard said. "The pressure is definitely on this weekend."

On track action begins this Thursday when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series takes to the track for the first time on the new Darlington surface. Qualifying for the Dodge Challenger 400 will broadcast live on SPEED Channel Friday evening beginning at 5:00 p.m. ET.

-credit: dei/mr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Paul Menard