Menard Battles Back from Qualifying Maladies, Mid-Race Contact To Finish 20th in NASCAR Busch Series 300 at California Speedway. FONTANA, Calif. (Saturday, Feb. 26, 2005) -- Paul Menard of Eau Claire, Wis., closed the book on an eventful...
Menard Battles Back from Qualifying Maladies, Mid-Race Contact To Finish 20th in NASCAR Busch Series 300 at California Speedway.
FONTANA, Calif. (Saturday, Feb. 26, 2005) -- Paul Menard of Eau Claire, Wis., closed the book on an eventful Stater Bros. 300 NASCAR Busch Series race today with a 20th-place finish from the back of the 43-car field.
Menard started the day by qualifying only 32nd due to a carburetion problem in his #11 Menards/Quaker State Chevrolet, forcing the Dale Earnhardt, Inc., crew to change the carburetor on pit road as the 43-car field rolled for its first of three pre-green-flag pace laps. That sent Menard to the back of the pack, but with the new carburetor having solved the problem, the 24-year-old found himself making steady progress in his march toward the front.
He was in the top 15 by Lap 41 of today's 150-lap event around the 2-mile California Speedway tri-oval and felt confident he was going to be able to continue working his way toward the leaders. But contact with the spinning car of Tyler Walker on Lap 48 forced an extended pit stop to pull out the left-front fender, and Menard had to battle varying degrees of understeer the rest of the way.
Mark Martin ran away with the victory in today's race, which was red-flagged for 26 minutes due to rain on Lap 139. Fellow NASCAR Nextel Cup veteran Kevin Harvick was second and Shane Hmiel was third. Menard's finish pushed him to ninth in the drivers standings after the season's first two events. Next up is next weekend's inaugural road course race in Mexico City.
"That was an eventful day if there ever was one. We were down on power during our qualifying run and debated whether to change motors for the race and start from the back. After lengthy discussion, we decided to just change the carburetor. It turned out to be the right call. The missing horsepower was back and the Menards/Quaker State Chevrolet was running really well before we got hit in the left front. It was never the same after that. I think it did something to the front (roll) bar because we were pretty tight from that point onward. It's a shame because we had a really good car. But those are the breaks. It's a long season and we've just got to keep accumulating the points as best we can. We'll have our day."