Menard Scores First Career Top Ten at Bristol Motor Speedway Bristol, TN -- Since making his debut at Bristol Motor Speedway in March of 2004, Paul Menard has been searching for a top ten finish at the famed short track. The finish that...
Menard Scores First Career Top Ten at Bristol Motor Speedway
Bristol, TN -- Since making his debut at Bristol Motor Speedway in March of 2004, Paul Menard has been searching for a top ten finish at the famed short track.
The finish that had eluded the driver in five previous starts at the .533-mile oval track was finally his on Friday night. Menard drove his No. 11 Turtle Wax Ice/Menards Chevrolet to a tenth place finish in the Food City 250.
"This track is just really challenging and to complete all the laps here is an accomplishment in itself, so a top ten finish is definitely a welcome result." Menard said.
Menard's foray to his first top ten at the world's fastest half mile oval, came on the heels of a roller coaster day for the Dale Earnhardt Inc. crew. After an on track incident during practice had the team scrambling to repair damage to the rear end of Menard's Chevy, Crew Chief Dan Stillman was pleased with Menard's qualifying placement.
"The car was so fast during practice," Stillman said. "But after the tangle with the 4 car, we didn't know exactly what we had going into qualifying. Track position is so important here, so there was definitely extra pressure on Paul to qualify well."
Menard answered to call for a great starting spot with a tenth place qualifying effort. But as soon as the green flag flew on the 250-lap event, Menard made his charge for the front; taking the ninth place spot on lap 2. Menard fought his slighting loose handling racecar and moved up to seventh place by lap 50.
Stillman called Menard into the pits on lap 70 for the one and only pit stop of the night. The four tire, fuel and air pressure stop by the crew was the answer to Menard's minor handling problems. After returning to the track in 16th place, Menard radioed the crew that the car was perfect.
Menard resumed his charge toward the front, moving up to fourth place by lap 110. On lap 127 Menard easily moved into the second position and held onto the runner up spot for 35 laps. Several of the forthcoming caution flags put Menard under attack by the rest of the top ten cars. Catching the high grove on the restart after the seventh caution period of the night may have eradicated Menard's hope for a top five finish. Menard, however, fought to hang onto the sixth place spot on lap 217. Additional caution flags in the closing laps of the race once again put Menard in the high grove on restarts. Menard, however, happily took the tenth place finish and set his sights on the remaining nine races in the season.
"To come out of Bristol with a top ten finish and a stronger hold on my place in the championship standings is pretty cool." Menard said.
This week, Menards Racing heads west to California Speedway for Saturday's CarFax 250.