BUSCH: Indy IRP: Paul Menard preview

Menard Ready for Indianapolis Raceway Park Under the Lights, Scene of His Best Career NASCAR Busch Series Finish To Date CLERMONT, Ind. (Aug. 3, 2004) -- Fresh off his best finish of the 2004 season on a mile-high, mile oval at the foot of ...

Menard Ready for Indianapolis Raceway Park Under the Lights,
Scene of His Best Career NASCAR Busch Series Finish To Date

CLERMONT, Ind. (Aug. 3, 2004) -- Fresh off his best finish of the 2004 season on a mile-high, mile oval at the foot of Colorado's Rocky Mountains, Paul Menard is set to tackle the just-over-a-half-mile oval at the center of the racing universe, where he scored the best finish of his relatively brief NASCAR Busch Series career a year ago.

Menard will make his third start in the #11 Menards/Moen Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., at Saturday night's Kroger 200 on the Indianapolis Raceway Park .686-mile oval. Just last Saturday, in his 22nd career Busch start, he scored a 12th-place finish with a workmanlike performance at Pikes Peak International Raceway. And now, after delivering his best finish of the season, he and his new teammates are looking forward to the always-exciting IRP event, in which Menard drove to a ninth-place finish in only his fifth-ever Busch start last August.

While in the midst of his first full Busch Series season, Menard's visit to the short, flat IRP layout is a throwback to his days on the NASCAR Midwest Series, where he seasoned his short-track-racing skills from 2000 through 2002 with top-10 finishes in the season-ending points the latter two seasons. Last year, during a mixed bag of ARCA, NASCAR Busch, Truck and Cup events, Menard came to IRP not long after scoring an eighth-place finish in the Truck Series race at Kansas. He started 20th in the Busch race here, but worked his way into the top 10 in his Andy Petree Racing Chevrolet and was ninth when the checkered flag flew.

"Last year at IRP, we were steadily moving forward and had one of the best cars on the track," said Menard, who started this season driving for Petree but switched to the DEI team at last month's race at New Hampshire. "I feel very comfortable at IRP. It's a great racetrack with lots of grooves, which is something every driver looks for. But, best yet, we're racing under the lights in Indianapolis, the racing capitol of the world. That's always special. With all that we've learned at IRP the last two weeks, I believe we have as good of a shot as anyone else at the top spot. I can't wait to get there."

Last weekend's 12th-place finish at Pikes Peak surpassed Menard's 13th-place result at Nazareth in May.

The Kroger 200 is a one-day show Saturday, with two hours of practice set to begin at 11:45 a.m. local time (12:45 p.m. EDT), and qualifying at 4:05 p.m. local time (5:05 p.m. EDT). The 200-lap race begins at 7 p.m. local time (8 p.m. EDT) with a live broadcast set for the TNT cable network.

-dei-

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Andy Petree , Paul Menard