Remarkable Rebound in New Hampshire
Loudon, NH -- Paul Menard's performance in the New England 200 further verifies the 25-year old driver's ability to produce short track success for his Dale Earnhardt Inc. team. Menard's fourth place finish in the 200-lap event is his fourth such accomplishment this season. Furthermore, the top-five run solidifies Menard's hang onto the seventh place position in NASCAR Busch Series championship standings.
"We just needed a good, solid run and we got it today," Menard said after rebounding from DNF's in the two races prior New Hampshire. "I was really looking forward to this race, so a top five finish is definitely a nice way to round out the weekend."
The stellar result of the event came as a surprise to some who took the 25th place qualifying an indication of things to come in the race. Menard and Crew Chief Dan Stillman, however, knew better -- assuring the team the Sylvania/Menards Chevy was going to be really fast in race trim.
"Just be alert for an early race shuffle," Stillman said. "If we can just get into the top fifteen, then we'll make up some ground in the pits to work our way into the top ten."
Menard did just that -- moving up through the field during the opening laps. Running in 16th place when the caution flag flew on lap 55, Menard came down pit road for service. The team went to work and performed a super fast pit stop, gaining the driver two spots, up to 14th place.
Back on track, Menard quickly alerted the crew that the most recent adjustments to the car were not helping.
"The car feels numb right now," Menard reported. "I think we should go back on that last adjustment the next chance we have."
The crew's opportunity to improve the car's handling came on lap 79. Menard came down pit road for another four tires, fuel and adjustment stop. Returning to the track in 16th place, Menard quickly resumed his climb through the field. His consistent lap times moved Menard up to 13th place by lap 86. On lap 89 Menard's quick reflexes helped him avoid a wreck directly in his path. Menard's reward came in the shape of a five spot gain up to eighth place. The closing 50 laps of the race were the best of the day for Menards Racing. After closing in on the fifth spot, Menard gained two more spots on pit road during the final pit stop. Menard's forth place restart would hang tough until the checkered flag.
"Persistence pays off." Menard said following the race. "We just kept working on the car and we got it exactly where we needed it today."