Menard's Wisconsin Homecoming Nets Career-Best Third Place At Milwaukee's SBC 250 NASCAR Busch Series Race WEST ALLIS, Wis. (Saturday, June 25, 2005) -- For the second consecutive week, Paul Menard of Eau Claire, Wis., scored his career-best ...
Menard's Wisconsin Homecoming Nets Career-Best Third Place At Milwaukee's SBC 250 NASCAR Busch Series Race
WEST ALLIS, Wis. (Saturday, June 25, 2005) -- For the second consecutive week, Paul Menard of Eau Claire, Wis., scored his career-best NASCAR Busch Series finish -- this time bringing home third place at tonight's rain-shortened SBC 250 on the Milwaukee Mile.
Coming off his first NBS career top-five finish at Kentucky Speedway last Saturday night, Menard and his #11 Menards/Splash Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., came back strong in his home state before a huge throng of family and friends, ending up in the top two in both morning practice sessions, qualifying third, and then scoring his first career top-three NBS finish.
Menard was running a strong third when tonight's first caution period came on Lap 22 of 250 scheduled laps around the historic mile oval here. Only a small handful of competitors chose to pit -- Menard and the first-place-running Johnny Sauter among them. That sent Menard back to 17th when green-flag racing resumed on Lap 25, but he made quick and deliberate work of his march toward the front on fresh tires, finding himself in the top five by Lap 55, and back in the top three by Lap 82.
He made his first green-flag pit stop on Lap 108, falling back to 15th this time after taking on four tires and fuel. But, again, Menard was back in the top five by Lap 119. He pitted for what turned out to be a final time under yellow on Lap 148, falling back to ninth place when the race resumed under green on Lap 151. Yet again, Menard picked off car after car over the next 42 laps, finding his way back to third for good on Lap 193.
Rain began falling shortly thereafter while Menard was closing in on second-place Martin Truex, Jr., but officials called for a caution period on Lap 197, freezing the field, and then red-flagged the race on Lap 200. After an almost 90-minute delay as track workers attempted to dry the racing surface, another line of showers hit the area and NASCAR called the event.
Menard's fellow Wisconsinite, Johnny Sauter, was the winner before the home crowd with Truex second. The third-place finish bumped Menard up to 12th in the drivers standings. He has picked up eight positions in the standings the past two weekends.
Next up is next Friday night's Winn-Dixie 250 at Daytona International Speedway.
"There was definitely a lot of motivation coming home. The Menards/Splash Chevrolet was really good. We tested here last week and learned a few things that helped us get off to a really fast start in practice this morning. I just real happy that (crew chief) Dan Stillman and all the boys DEI are working so hard, week in and week out. We've come a long way since the start of the season. I was just really happy to be racing here in Milwaukee. It's fun to have Mom, Dad, Sisters, Girlfriend and a whole lot of my friends here with me. The car was driving really well from the start. We were a little bit free at first, but we ept working, dropping tire pressures, and by the end of the race I think we were the fastest car on the track on old tires. We were definitely catching Martin (Truex) there when the rains came. Who knows what would have happened if we would have gone back to racing. I think we might have even had something for Johnny (Sauter). But I'll have to say I'm pretty happy with third, especially after finishing fifth last week. If we just keep working hard like we have, the results will keep coming. Next week we go back to a (restrictor) plate track, and I can't wait for a chance to finish some business at Daytona."