BUSCH: Menard fighting for points spot

Paul Menard has the distinction of being the first Busch series regular to have a place in series point standings. Menard sits seventh behind a sea of NASCAR Nextel Cup driver's that have dominated the series this season. All but two Busch races...

Paul Menard has the distinction of being the first Busch series regular to have a place in series point standings. Menard sits seventh behind a sea of NASCAR Nextel Cup driver's that have dominated the series this season.

All but two Busch races have been won by Cup series sit-ins, luckily for Menard he is one of those two drivers having won his first Busch series win at Milwaukee earlier this season.

"It's cool," said Menard of the win. "To win here with family, friends, Dan's family (crew chief Dan Stillman, of Green Bay), his friends, everybody here to cheer us on, is pretty special."

Menard, 24, is in his second full time season of Busch driving for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. He started his career at the age of eight when he won the Briggs Junior Class Championship in his hometown of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He worked his way through the racing ranks and eventually, at 15, began competing in the International Ice Racing Association, winning 10 events.

From 2000-2003, Menard raced in the NASCAR ReMax Challenge series, the SCAA Trans-Am series, the Grand-Am Cup and the NASCAR Southwest tour series. In 2003, he joined Andy Petree Racing to compete in ARCA and the NASCAR Cup, Busch and Truck series.

Menard made his first ARCA start in Salem, Indiana qualifying second and finishing fourth. Later that year he earned his first ARCA victory at Talladega Superspeedway. That year he also grabbed a ninth place result at the Indianapolis Raceway Park Busch race and an eighth in the Kansas Speedway truck series event.

In 2004, Menard moved from Andy Petree Racing to Dale Earnhardt Incorporated. Things began to come together for Team Menard in 2005 scoring the pole at Talladega and earning six top fives and 15 top-10's. Menard's success on intermediate tracks makes him a favorite this weekend at Chicagoland.

"I think our intermediate program is where we need it to be and that helps going into a busy weekend," said Menard. "I think the added time on track, with the Busch and Cup cars, helps keep my personal performance level up. Having our first win out of the way helps too. I think there is a lot to be said for momentum, though, so after trouble at Daytona, that's what we need more than anything this weekend. We need a solid top ten."

This season Menard one win, thee top fives and nine top-10's and is the highest Busch series regular in point standings. The future is bright for Menard, DEI announced earlier this season that he will drive full time in the Nextel Cup series starting in 2007.

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Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Andy Petree , Paul Menard