BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 23, 2005) -- Defending race-winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr., is back for his third NASCAR Busch Series race of the season, joining series regular Paul Menard, who's been on something of a roll the last 10 events, as a pair of ...
BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 23, 2005) -- Defending race-winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr., is back for his third NASCAR Busch Series race of the season, joining series regular Paul Menard, who's been on something of a roll the last 10 events, as a pair of Menards-sponsored Chevrolets go under the lights for Friday night's ever-popular Food City 250 on the Bristol Motor Speedway high-banked half-mile concrete oval.
Earnhardt will be looking to put his #81 Menards Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., back in Victory Lane here on Friday night while Menard, whose bright-yellow #11 Menards/Marvel Mystery Oil DEI Chevrolet takes on a stunning black paint scheme this week, tries for his first Busch victory while hoping to extend an impressive 10-race streak that has seen him climb from 18th to seventh in the drivers standings.
Last August here, Earnhardt qualified the #81 Menards/Save Big Money Chevrolet on the pole and drove a commanding race for his first Busch victory in six starts at Bristol. It was the first appearance in NASCAR Victory Lane for Menards Home Imrovement Super Centers, and both Earnhardt and Menard hope to be the one to bring home another first-place trophy in what will no doubt be a another thrilling Bristol race.
"It's always fun to go back to Bristol and be a part of the controlled chaos!" said Earnhardt, who came back the night after last year's Busch win here to take his first career Nextel Cup win at Bristol, giving him a combined two wins and eight top-fives in 17 Nextel Cup and Busch series starts here. "We won there in the Menards car last year, and we're bringing it back again to see if we can back it up. Menards has been a good partner and we were fortunate to get them their first trip to the winners circle. If we can't repeat this weekend, hopefully it will be Paul or (fellow DEI driver and defending series champion) Martin (Truex, Jr.) representing us in Victory Lane."
Menard, who turned 25 this past Sunday, has enjoyed some of his most promising weekends at Bristol. In each of his three previous Busch series starts here, he appeared headed for top-10 finishes before some of that "controlled chaos" -- the kind Earnhardt alluded to -- got a little out of control. While Earnhardt was on his way to Victory Lane here last August, Menard's particularly strong run was ruined when lapped traffic punted him into the concrete barrier and ended his night a little more than 70 laps from the finish. This past April, Menard again was on his way to a top-10 finish when, just 18 laps from the finish, he was inadvertently bumped from behind and spun by Dale Jarrett. Those are just two examples of the kind of racing luck that Menard and his #11 DEI teammates finally have been able to avoid during their remarkable run the last 10 events.
"We've got a ton of momentum coming to one of the most exciting races of the year," said Menard, a top-10 finisher in nine of his last 10 races and a 12th-place finisher in the other. "Just to add to the excitement, we've reversed our paint scheme on the Menards/Marvel Mystery Oil Chevrolet for this one and I think our black car with neon yellow graphics is definitely going to turn some heads. Without question, Bristol is one of my favorite places to race. It seems we've always had a good race car there. Knock on wood, if we can continue our latest streak of staying out of trouble on the racetrack, it could turn out to be a really memorable night. I can't say how much I'm looking forward to it. Having Dale, Jr., back in the other Menards car gives us a really good shot at ending up in Victory Lane, as always."
The Food City 250 is a one-day show Friday with practice set for 9:45 a.m. EDT, qualifying at 4:40 p.m. EDT, and race time at 7:50 p.m. EDT. SPEED-TV's live qualifying coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. EDT while the TNT cable network's live race coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. EDT.