Menard's Run of Top-10 Finishes Continues With 10th Place in NASCAR Busch Series Dover 200 DOVER, Del. (Saturday, Sept. 24, 2005) -- Paul Menard continued his top-10-finishing ways this afternoon by driving his ...
Menard's Run of Top-10 Finishes Continues With 10th Place in NASCAR Busch Series Dover 200
DOVER, Del. (Saturday, Sept. 24, 2005) -- Paul Menard continued his top-10-finishing ways this afternoon by driving his #11 Menards/Pittsburgh Paints Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., to 10th place in today's Dover 200 NASCAR Busch Series event on the famed Monster Mile oval.
With his race car again sporting the stunning black paint scheme that debuted at Bristol last month, Menard started 13th and fought varying degrees of understeer throughout today's 200-lap race. Nonetheless, he scored a 10th-place finish that was his 13th top-12 result in the last 14 Busch events dating back to mid-June at Kentucky Speedway.
Menard, the 25-year-old out of Eau Claire, Wis., picked up a position on the very first lap of the race and, during the second tour of the circuit, was running nose-to-tail behind Nextel Cup Series regular Matt Kenseth when Kenseth appeared to abort an attempted inside pass of Rusty Wallace and Kenseth's car broke loose in front of Menard. Kenseth got sideways and a multicar pileup ensued behind him, bringing out the red flag. Menard was able to escape the melee but was unsure whether there was contact between his car and Kenseth's.
Not long after the race resumed on Lap 6, Menard briefly worked his way into the top 10 while the first signs of understeer began to surface. Not until the 11 team brought Menard into the pits for his first fuel-and-tire stop under green on Lap 95 were they able to try and remedy the situation. Ninth when he pitted, Menard resumed in 17th as the 43-car field continued to cycle through green-flag stops. With the understeer seemingly cured, at least temporarily, Menard was back in 12th by Lap 103. During that stretch, and until the yellow flag appeared on Lap 120, Menard was running his best laps of the day, sandwiched between the day's most dominant cars of Nextel Cup regular Ryan Newman and defending series champion Martin Truex, Jr., in front of him, and the third-place Reed Sorensen. He pitted during that caution period on Lap 124, his crew taking further action to prevent the growing understeer problem.
Menard worked his way to 11th with a pass of Kenny Wallace on Lap 140, to 10th with a pass of Carl Edwards on Lap 143, and to ninth with a pass of Brian Vickers on Lap 171 -- the latter two Nextel Cup regulars. By this time Menard's right-front tire was spent, leaving him almost 30 laps to try and hang onto his position until the checkered flag unless another yellow flag appeared. None did, and Menard lost back the positions he gained from Vickers and Edwards and had to settle for 10th place.
Newman's thoroughly dominating run today earned him the victory while Truex suffered a cut tire in the waning laps, sending him back to 12th place. Menard maintained his solid seventh place standing in the drivers points.
The Busch series takes next weekend off before resuming Oct. 8 at Kansas Speedway.
"That was about as good of a finish as we were going to get today. We got pretty tight there at the end, so it was all I could do to hang on. Tenth place is good, all things considered. We just keep plugging away. I honestly can't say whether or not I tapped the 17 car (on the second lap). I was definitely tucked up underneath him, but then he broke loose and that was it. I didn't feel any contact, and my crew told me on the radio there was not a mark on the Menards/Pittsburgh Paints Chevrolet. If I did make contact with Matt (Kenseth), it wasn't anything intentional. But I can't say for sure. We get another week off before coming back at Kansas, which is a track I really got to like a lot after winning my first (Busch series) pole there last year."