Menard Chalks One Up To Experience at Indianapolis, Brings Home Top-20 Finish in NASCAR Busch Race CLERMONT, Ind. (Saturday, Aug. 7, 2004) -- NASCAR Busch Series rookie Paul Menard had his hands full battling both ends of the...
Menard Chalks One Up To Experience at Indianapolis, Brings Home Top-20 Finish in NASCAR Busch Race
CLERMONT, Ind. (Saturday, Aug. 7, 2004) -- NASCAR Busch Series rookie Paul Menard had his hands full battling both ends of the handling spectrum in bringing home a top-20 finish at tonight's Kroger 200 at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Menard, the 23-year-old out of Eau Claire, Wis., started 26th on the .686-mile oval where he experienced his best career Busch finish of ninth a year ago. Despite fighting a heavy oversteer condition in the #11 Menards/Moen Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., he picked up five positions before pitting for the first time under yellow on Lap 50 of tonight's 200-lap event.
A problem with the jack and left-rear tire change on that stop cost him six positions, dropping him back to 27th when the race went back to green on Lap 56. On the ensuing fuel-and-tire run, Menard found himself fighting a heavy understeer condition that the DEI crew remedied on a Lap 112 pit stop under yellow, sending Menard back out in 27th place, one lap down.
That turned out to be Menard's final stop, and he ran his fastest laps of the race during the remaining 88 laps. He worked his way up to as high as 19th on a Lap 160 restart before crossing the finish line in 20th place at race's end.
The NASCAR Busch Series takes a week off before resuming at Michigan International Speedway on Aug. 21.
"Of all the tracks we race on, this has to be the one that seems to change the most during the course of a race night. It's extremely sensitive. We definitely were running our best laps of the race at the end of the race, which once again is a real credit to (crew chief) Tony Gibson and the whole team. We started out extremely loose and maybe over-adjusted on our first stop. We also had a problem in the pits that cost us track position and ultimately led to our going a lap down during the next run. It was a learning experience for all of us. We're still a very new team and there are going to be growing pains in the early going. The guys are getting used to working with each other. Tony and I are learning more and more about each other every day. One thing I can say for sure is that our day will come."