Menard Adds Yet Another Top-10 Finish to His Current Streak With Seventh Place at IRP NASCAR Busch Series Kroger 200 CLERMONT, Ind. (Saturday, Aug. 6, 2005) -- Paul Menard of Eau Claire, Wis., made it seven top-10 finishes in his last eight...
Menard Adds Yet Another Top-10 Finish to His Current Streak With Seventh Place at IRP NASCAR Busch Series Kroger 200
CLERMONT, Ind. (Saturday, Aug. 6, 2005) -- Paul Menard of Eau Claire, Wis., made it seven top-10 finishes in his last eight NASCAR Busch Series races with a seventh-place effort in tonight's rain-interrupted Kroger 200 at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Menard qualified 13th late this afternoon in his #11 Menards/Moen Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., after a morning that started with his setting the fastest lap in the opening practice session. He jumped to 11th at the start of tonight's 200-lap event around this 0.66-mile oval, a huge favorite among the NASCAR driver community. His first pit stop came on Lap 53 under a yellow brought out by rain, with Menard's DEI crew making adjustments to correct a loose condition coming off the corners. The race was then red-flagged on Lap 60 as rain began to fall heavier. The race resumed approximately 90 minutes later.
The green flag flew to restart the race in earnest on Lap 73, with Menard in 13th, and he maintained that relative position, still fighting a slightly loose condition off the corners, until pitting a second and final time for tires and fuel under caution on Lap 104. He emerged in 19th place when the race went back to green on Lap 108, and he made a determined drive into the top 10 from there, picking off car after car in workmanlike fashion.
By Lap 151, Menard was in 10th place after passing Brandon Miller. He made it up to eight after passes of NASCAR Nextel Cup regular Carl Edwards and Ashton Lewis, Jr., by Lap 160. Menard made his final pass on the penultimate lap of the race, extended to a green-white-checker finish on Lap 204, getting former series champion David Green.
Defending series champion Martin Truex, Jr., dominated most of the race to pick up his sixth victory of the season and the 100th in the history of the Dale Earnhardt, Inc., organization. Menard, still 10th in the drivers standings after tonight's race, closed the gap to ninth-place Green to just 23 points.
Next up is next Saturday's road course event at Watkins Glen, N.Y. In addition to driving the #11 DEI Busch car, Menard also is enterered in his first Nextel Cup event of the season the following day at Watkins Glen behind the wheel of the #1 DEI Nextel Cup Chevrolet.
"It was pretty crazy out there tonight, but it's all good. This is a great racetrack because you can actually race on it. It was a lot of hard work, but it was some of the best fun I've had. Once again, (crew chief) Dan Stillman and the boys at DEI gave me an awesome race car. We were a touch loose off all night long, but it wasn't something that we couldn't deal with. A lot of the time we were the fastest car on the track, so that's a good thing. It was another good night for us in the points standings, too. We're really getting the hang of this top-10 thing. I hope we can keep it going. I'm really looking forward to getting back to a road course next week at The Glen. We tested there the other day and I think we will have an awesome race car there, too. I hope we can take advantage of that. Hats off to Martin (Truex) for bringing home DEI's 100th win. It's a huge milestone for a very proud organization. I hope we can add to that victory total ourselves, really soon."