Menard, DEI ...
Menard, DEI #11 Busch Team Blow Into the Windy City
Riding Streak of Three-Consecutive Top-Six Finishes
JOLIET, Ill. (July 6, 2005) -- Three top-six finishes in his last three NASCAR Busch Series races has Paul Menard and his #11 Menards/Turtle Wax Chevrolet team from Dale Earnhardt, Inc., primed for more at this weekend's USG Durock 300 on the Chicagoland Motor Speedway 1.5-mile tri-oval.
The 24-year-old from Eau Claire, Wis., continued his streak of top finishes last Friday night with another strong run on the Daytona International Speedway high-banked tri-oval. Menard qualified on the front row for the third time and in the top 10 for the 10th time in 15 qualifying attempts this season, led a heaping handful of laps in the early going, and essentially pushed teammate and defending series champion Martin Truex, Jr., to the race win in the closing laps before getting shuffled back for what turned out to be a sixth-place finish.
"We broke through with our first top-five finish just a few weeks ago and we haven't looked back since," said Menard, who was fifth at Kentucky three weekends ago, and followed that up with his first career top-three at Milwaukee the very next weekend before heading down to Daytona. "It's feeling pretty good to be running up front. Probably the coolest thing about this streak is we've done it on every kind of track -- the mile-and-a-half tri-oval at Kentucky, the mile oval at Milwaukee, and last week in the (restrictor) plate race at Daytona. It took a lot of work to reach this point, but (crew chief) Dan Stillman and everyone at DEI have earned every bit of it. Best of all, we're hungrier than ever and working harder harder than ever to keep it going."
Saturday's 200-lap event closes out Menard's first full season in the DEI camp, which he joined last July at New Hampshire. He missed this event last year, located in the hometown of his longtime sponsors Turtle Wax and Peak Antifreeze, while preparing to go racing with the DEI organization. But he's no stranger to this track as he made his third career Busch series start here in 2003 while running a mixed bag of NASCAR Truck, Busch, Nextel Cup and ARCA series races. He qualified 14th and was in the midst of a solid run before a mid-race accident ended his day early. In the two short years, since, Menard has matured noticeably as he has proven to be a rather quick study of the ins and outs of the brutally competitive world of NASCAR racing.
"It'll be great to go racing again in Chicago," he said. "We're back in Menards territory, right in the back yard of our sponsors Turtle Wax and Peak who have been so good to us over the years, and we'd like nothing more than to give them all the biggest thrill of them all by scoring our first race win. I'm really looking forward to it."