BUSCH: Texas: Paul Menard preview

Menard, ...

Menard, #11 Dale Earnhardt, Inc., Team Ready To Get Back To Racing At Saturday's O'Reilly 300 NASCAR Busch Series Event at Texas

FORT WORTH, Texas (April 12, 2005) -- After enjoying their first off weekend of the NASCAR Busch Series season, Paul Menard and his #11 Menards/Quaker State Chevrolet teammates from Dale Earnhardt, Inc., are ready to get back to the business of racing at Saturday's O'Reilly 300 on the Texas Motor Speedway mile-and-a-half tri-oval.

Two Mondays ago, the 24-year-old Menard was last seen battling his way toward his first top-10 finish of the season on the always-exciting Bristol Motor Speedway half-mile oval after two impressive practice sessions to open the rain-hampered race weekend there.

Fifth in Friday's opening practice at Bristol, then second in Happy Hour later that day, Menard was unable to capitalize on a superior Menards racing machine as Saturday's qualifying session and subsequent race was rained out, sending him to a 28th starting position on a grid determined by owners points. He made his way toward the front, nonetheless, but saw his late-race move toward the top 10 thwarted by inadvertent contact from behind by former Nextel Cup champion Dale Jarrett with just 18 laps to go.

"It would have been a great way to cap off the opening stretch of the season before our first break in the schedule, but it just wasn't meant to be," Menard said of his Bristol experience. "After taking a weekend off, I know the whole Menards team is itching to get back to the track. We're definitely a motivated group because we showed some really good things just about everywhere we've raced so far this season. I'm tired of talking about the bad luck that's bit us more often than not. We have to go out there and make our own good luck, just like anyone who's ever been successful at anything."

A successful two days of testing at TMS prior to the Bristol race certainly leaves the Menards team feeling hopeful once again as they return for Saturday's 300-mile event. Last season, driving a Menards-sponsored Andy Petree Racing entry, Menard rallied from the back of the pack after a post-Happy Hour engine change and again flirted with a top-10 finish before coming home 14th.

"We learned some new things that I think will help us a lot," Menard said of his test here two weeks ago. "It's a fresh start for us after a weekend off, and we're definitely ready."

Practice for Saturday's O'Reilly 300 begins Thursday at 11:15 a.m. local time (12:15 p.m. EDT), with qualifying set for 5 p.m. local time (6 p.m. EDT) with a live broadcast on SPEED-TV. After an off day Friday, race time Saturday is 1 p.m. local time (2 p.m. EDT) with the FOX broadcast network providing the live coverage.

-dei/mr-

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Series NASCAR-NS