Menard's Best Race Day of the Season Ends Abruptly With Overheating Problem at Bristol Busch Race BRISTOL, Tenn. (Saturday, March 27, 2004) -- Paul Menard enjoyed his best NASCAR Busch Series outing of his rookie season until an ...
Menard's Best Race Day of the Season Ends Abruptly With Overheating Problem at Bristol Busch Race
BRISTOL, Tenn. (Saturday, March 27, 2004) -- Paul Menard enjoyed his best NASCAR Busch Series outing of his rookie season until an overheating problem with the #33 Menards/Moen Chevrolet of Andy Petree Racing ended his day on Lap 207 of today's Sharpie Professional 250 on the Bristol Motor Speedway high-banked, half-mile oval.
The 23-year-old Menard, out of Eau Claire, Wis., started 27th and stayed clear of trouble on the racetrack that brought out a pair of early cautions -- the first on Lap 12 and the second on Lap 26 of today's 250-lap featured event. He was forced to pit during the latter caution, however, as the #33 car's water temperatures were running a bit high and the crew removed tape covering the front grillwork. That signaled the beginning of the end, but over the next 181 laps, Menard put on quite a show, moving from 32nd position on the Lap 34 restart on up through the field. By Lap 156, Menard was running as high as 15th after passing polesitter Greg Biffle, although the Menards Chevrolet continued to experience overheating problems. After pitting on Lap 174 for a final set of tires and a tank of fuel, effects from the overheating problem were more and more noticeable, and by Lap 207 the engine was out of water and the crew had no choice but to retire.
Martin Truex was the winner of today's event, beating runner-up NASCAR Nextel Cup regular Kevin Harvick to the checkered flag.
Next up is next Saturday's O'Reilly 300 on the Texas Motor Speedway 1.5-mile tri-oval, which will be televised by the FOX network at 2 p.m. EST.
"That was our best outing of the season for sure, while it lasted. My car owner (Andy Petree) told me I was running as fast as the leaders the whole middle part of the race. That was definitely a lot of fun. We came in to see about an overheating problem during an early yellow (on Lap 27) and I had a bad feeling then that the car wasn't going to last the entire race. So I figured I'd try and make a good showing for as long as I possibly could. Fortunately, the car was the best it has been all weekend. The guys worked their you-know-whats off making changes to the car after Happy Hour yesterday and this morning and they did a great job. Unfortunately, I think we need to take a good, long look at the design of our cooling system and see if we can make some changes for the short tracks. But I have to say, it was a lot of fun while it lasted. We feel encouraged because we ended up with a good race car here on a track where we were able to test before the race weekend. We're headed to a few more tracks in the coming weeks where we've either tested this year or raced last year. I feel the momentum."