Paul Menard to attempt DEI Nextel Cup start at Watkins Glen MOORESVILLE, NC -- Dale Earnhardt, Inc. has entered Paul Menard in this weekend's Nextel Cup Series race; the Sirius Satellite Radio at The Glen road course event. Menard will...
Paul Menard to attempt DEI Nextel Cup start at Watkins Glen
MOORESVILLE, NC -- Dale Earnhardt, Inc. has entered Paul Menard in this weekend's Nextel Cup Series race; the Sirius Satellite Radio at The Glen road course event.
Menard will pilot the No. 1 Kraft/Ritz Chevrolet at Watkins Glen International. Since coming to DEI in July of 2004, the 24-year old native of Eau Claire, Wisconsin has won two Busch Pole Awards. In the last eight Busch races, he's earned three top-fives, seven top-10s and moved from 18th to 10th in points in the No. 11 Menards Chevrolet for DEI.
This will be his first Nextel Cup Series race for DEI, but not his first Cup start. "I made my first Cup start in 2003 at Watkins Glen," said Menard, who started 43rd and finished 29th in that race. "This is every young racer's dream to make a Cup start with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. I'm looking forward to this very much.
"The No. 1 Chevrolet is where it all started on the Cup side for DEI. There have been some pretty good drivers who have been associated with this car through the years. It's quite an honor to drive the car and have Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Michael Waltrip as teammates.
"Kraft has been a big supporter of DEI through the years and I'll proudly be wearing their logos. I can't thank them enough for being a part of this coming weekend."
In preparation for the race, Menard went to The Glen with Tony Eury, Sr, Director of Competition for DEI, car chief B. Hoover and his Busch crew chief, Dan Stillman, to test.
"We tested the Cup car at Watkins Glen last week for two days and it went very well," Menard said. "It's such a fast road course and I enjoy going each time because you can really drive the car hard around there.
"My goals for the weekend are to run top-five in the Busch race and qualify for the Cup race. I'll just take it from there and run a clean race. Gaining respect from your competitors is a priority when you race at any level."
Menard will be pulling double duty driving the No. 11 Menards Chevrolet in the Busch Series race on Saturday. This will be the first time the series has returned to The Glen since 2001.
Richie Gilmore, Vice-President of Motorsports, feels Menard has earned the opportunity.
"Paul has shown he can handle himself in a race car," Gilmore said. "He's sat on poles, outside poles, led laps and had some great finishes this year. Paul has qualified well this year in almost every Busch race, too.
"When we talked to him about making a Cup start with our team at Watkins Glen, he was very excited about the chance. Not too many people get excited about racing road courses. That's what we like about Paul; he's a team player and just loves to race.
"Paul gives good feedback and has been very helpful in determining which shock and spring package to use this weekend. Tony Sr. has had nothing but good things to say about him and the test.
"Tony Sr. helped Ryan Moore make his first Busch race for us a few weeks ago. His experience will now help Paul make the Cup race for us this weekend."
Paul Menard career highlights
2005- Earned Busch Pole Award at Talladega and led 21 laps. Earned first top-five at Kentucky
2004- Earned first Busch Pole Award at Kansas. Finished second in Rookie of the Year standings
2003- Won ARCA race at Talladega and pole at Winchester, Ind.
2002- Won Southwest Tour race at Phoenix, had two victories in Grand American Rolex Series in American GT Class
2001- Won NASCAR Midwest Series race at Elkhart Lake, Minn.