After a Strong Finishing Run at Memphis Sam's Town 250 Menard Eyes Breakthrough NASCAR Busch Series Finish at Atlanta HAMPTON, Ga. (Oct. 26, 2004) -- Paul Menard is gearing up for his 30th career NASCAR Busch Series start as he brings his ...
After a Strong Finishing Run at Memphis Sam's Town 250
Menard Eyes Breakthrough NASCAR Busch Series Finish at Atlanta
HAMPTON, Ga. (Oct. 26, 2004) -- Paul Menard is gearing up for his 30th career NASCAR Busch Series start as he brings his now-familiar, bright yellow #11 Menards/Pittsburgh Paints Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., to Atlanta Motor Speedway for Saturday's Aaron's 312.
Menard, the 24-year-old Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender from Eau Claire, Wis., comes to the 1.5-mile tri-oval here riding a wave of momentum that saw him methodically pick off eight cars on the racetrack during his final fuel-and-tire run during last Saturday's Sam's Town 250 at Memphis Motorsports Park. He qualified seventh for that race and his 11th-place finish was his best of the season.
Still, it left him wanting that elusive top-10 finish in his official Busch series rookie campaign more than ever. Had it not been for a caution flag just three laps from the scheduled finish, sending the race into overtime for a green-white-checker conclusion, Menard had the momentum to break into the top 10 right there on the shores of the Mississippi.
"We were running strong and had our best car of the day at the end of the race at Memphis," said Menard, whose best career Busch series finish of ninth came last season at Indianapolis. "I really wanted that top-10. We need one in the worst way. When you look at the big picture, though, this Menards/DEI program is very much still in its infancy. We've had just 11 race weekends together. It's becoming evident that consistency is starting to be our strong point. We didn't start out with a great-handling car at Memphis, but we worked our way through it and were running some of the fastest laps of the day at the end of the race. And we had some really, strong pit stops all day long. That's how it's supposed to be done. Sooner or later, that kind of consistency is going to pay off in a big way."
That elusive top finish, hopes Menard and the rest of the #11 Menards/PPG camp at DEI, will come this weekend at Atlanta, a track where they logged a successful test session just a little more than a week ago. Such was the case at Kansas Speedway, where the team tested prior to returning to town for the race two weekends ago and helped Menard earn his first career Busch series pole position. Likewise, they tested at Memphis before coming back to earn a solid top-seven spot on the starting grid.
Practice for Saturday's 203-lap race begins at 9:30 a.m. EDT Friday, followed by qualifying at 1:30 p.m. EDT that will be carried live by SPEED-TV. Race time Saturday is 1 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by the TNT cable network.