Mid-Race Contact Puts Menard Down But Not Out at Nashville As He Battles Back for a 13th-Place NASCAR Busch Series Finish LEBANON, Tenn. (Sunday, June 12, 2005) -- Paul Menard and his ...
Mid-Race Contact Puts Menard Down But Not Out at Nashville As He Battles Back for a 13th-Place NASCAR Busch Series Finish
LEBANON, Tenn. (Sunday, June 12, 2005) -- Paul Menard and his #11 Menards/Johns Manville Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., overcame a bit of mid-race contact, and he powered his way to a hard-fought 13th-place finish in today's running of Saturday's rained-out Federated Auto Parts 300 NASCAR Busch Series event at the Nashville Superspeedway.
Having to sit 25th on a starting grid determined for the second week in a row by owners points as Saturday's qualifying session and subsequent race were rained out, Menard made short work of his march toward the front of the pack in today's 125-lap run around the 1.33-mile concrete tri-oval here. He was into the top 20 by Lap 20, and was up to 14th when the second yellow flag of the race flew on Lap 42. He opted to stay out while the leaders in front of him pitted and emerged in first place when the race went back to green on Lap 47.
Menard lost ground to competitors on fresh tires, however, and slipped back to sixth by Lap 54, and 11th when another yellow flag flew on Lap 84. He pitted that time for fuel and fresh tires of his own and was in 14th on the ensuing restart. Menard was back up to 11th and on the verge of cracking the top 10 once again when, on a Lap 109 restart, he made contact with the slower car of Mark Green ahead of him and sustained enough damaged to the nose of the Menards/Johns Manville Chevrolet to warrant two visits to the pits for repairs during the ensuing caution period. That sent Menard back to 28th when the race went back to green on Lap 118.
Once again, however, he was able to power his way forward as the front-end damage did not prove to have a major effect on his car's handling. Menard was in 19th by Lap 142, and up to 17th by Lap 160 when cars in front of him began green-flag pit stops.
Menard was back in the top 10 by Lap 163, in the top five by Lap 174, and was second for the fourth lap in a row when he pitted under green on Lap 181, falling back to 23rd position and a lap down with 44 to go. Yet again, Menard was able to move toward the front, working his way to 19th by Lap 196. He pitted one final time for fresh tires under caution on Lap 202, stayed in 19th, but, most importantly, was the beneficiary of NASCAR's "Lucky Dog" free pass back to the lead lap.
With some of his most stellar driving of the afternoon, Menard picked six spots in the final 24 laps to claim 13th position by the time the checkered flag flew. He picked up two all-important positions in the NASCAR Busch Series drivers standings (from 20th to 18th).