Menard Brings ...
Menard Brings #11 Menards/Quaker State Chevrolet Home 11th For Top NASCAR Busch Series Finish of 2004 at Memphis
MILLINGTON, Tenn. (Saturday, Oct. 23, 2004) -- Paul Menard of Eau Claire, Wis., scored his top NASCAR Busch Series finish of his official rookie season on the tour, bringing the #11 Menards/Quaker State Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., home 11th at today's Sam's Town 250 on the Memphis Motorsports Park three-quarter-mile tri-oval.
Menard, whose top career Busch series finish of ninth came at Indianapolis Raceway Park in 2003, started seventh today but began losing ground not long after the start of today's 250-lap race due to heavy mid-corner understeer that snapped to oversteer upon exit. He fell back to 20th before pitting for the first time under yellow on Lap 31, but still found himself fighting the problem -- not quite as severe but still stifling his ability to work his way back up to the front. Menard stayed out during the next caution period to gain track position, and found himself sixth on a Lap-56 restart. He made his second of three pit stops under caution on Lap 130 and slightly improved his predicament with tire pressure and wedge adjustments, advancing from 20th on the ensuing restart to 16th when he pitted a final time under caution on Lap 195. He resumed in 20th on the Lap-200 restart that followed, and took advantage of a well-handling race car to pick off car after car to the finish, getting fellow rookie Kyle Busch just 10 laps from the scheduled finish for 11th place. A late-race caution -- brought out by Michael Waltrip's Lap-247 crash -- led to a green-white-checker finish to put Menard in position to gain one more position for his first top-10 of the season. But he was not able to catch Reed Sorenson in the closing two laps and had to settle for 11th.
Menard's previous best this season was 12th place at Pikes Peak the final weekend in July, just his second race with the DEI team.
Martin Truex, Jr., extended his series points lead by scoring the victory today, outrunning NASCAR Nextel Cup regular Greg Biffle on the green-white-checker finish that ended on Lap 255.
Next up for the NASCAR Busch Series is next Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
"We finished with the best car we had all day, which is one of the most important things you can do all weekend. Hats off to the Menards/Quaker State DEI team for giving me a good car that I could go racing with at the end. It was frustrating to see such a good starting spot go away with our handling problems at the start. We just were fighting that tight-in-the-center, loose-off condition and thank goodness there were so many yellows (13 in all) because long runs would have made things a lot worse for us. We were great on restarts all day, except for the last one. The tires were pretty much done by then. It's a shame because I really wanted that top-10 finish. We really need one. Good thing is, we're coming off a strong finish today and we have four more chances to get into the top 10 before the season's over."