BUSCH: Rockingham: Paul Menard race notes

Menard Rolls To 22nd-Place Finish in Busch Series Event at Rockingham ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Saturday, Feb. 21, 2004) -- It wasn't the most glamorous result on paper, says NASCAR Busch Series rookie Paul Menard, but today's 22nd-place run in the...

Menard Rolls To 22nd-Place Finish in Busch Series Event at Rockingham

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Saturday, Feb. 21, 2004) -- It wasn't the most glamorous result on paper, says NASCAR Busch Series rookie Paul Menard, but today's 22nd-place run in the Goody's Headache Powder 200 on the North Carolina Speedway mile oval turned out to produce some valuable experience for the Eau Claire, Wis., native.

The 23-year-old Menard started 15th and ran competitively throughout his first fuel-and-tire run before pitting under caution on Lap 54 of today's 197-lap event. He fell back to 18th as a result of that stop but was able to maintain his position until stopping a second time under caution on Lap 81. That stop dropped him back another two spots, to 20th, and he struggled with that third set of tires and was unable to make up ground. Instead, Menard fell a lap down on the 122nd tour of the high-banked mile oval and saw himself in 22nd place. Despite a drive-through penalty for violating a pit entry rule while coming in under green for a final stop on Lap 153 -- which dropped him all the way back to 24th, Menard had a strong final run and came home 22nd after picking off a couple of his competitors.

NASCAR Nextel Cup regular Jamie McMurray took the victory today, his fourth consecutive Busch Series win here, and was followed across the finish line by runner-up Martin Truex, Jr., and third-place-finishing Kevin Harvick, another Nextel Cup regular.

After taking next weekend off, the NASCAR Busch Series resumes March 6 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

PAUL MENARD

"At first glance, 22nd place isn't something to write home about, but we definitely learned a lot here this weekend. It was my first time here and it is a rather unique track with all the banking. I felt comfortable right away, and I thought after the start of the race that we would be moving forward, not necessarily backward, as the day went along. But we struggled a little bit with our first two pit stops, and my third set of tires didn't work well for us. The team nailed our final stop and I was able to go out there and pick up a couple of spots before the end, so that felt good. After the time we had at Daytona, I'm just glad to get through an entire race with no real incident. Like I said, we learned a lot, and we definitely know the things we need to work on. We'll be testing this week to get ourselves ready for Las Vegas, and hopefully we'll be in great shape for that one."

-apr-

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