BUSCH: Nashville: Paul Menard preview

Paul Menard NASCAR Busch Series -- ...

Paul Menard
NASCAR Busch Series -- #33 Menards/Moen Chevrolet
Team -- Andy Petree Racing, Flat Rock, N.C.
Sponsors -- Pittsburgh Paints, Energizer, Peak, Turtle Wax, Moen, Morton Salt, Empire Levels
On the Web -- www.teammenard.com

Menard Returns To the Scene of His NASCAR Busch Series Debut With This Weekend's Pepsi 300 at Nashville Superspeedway

LEBANON, Tenn. (April 7, 2004) -- It was just 10 months ago that Paul Menard made his NASCAR Busch Series debut at Nashville Superspeedway, where he flirted with a seemingly improbable top-five finish before a late-race cut tire made him settle for a solid 12th in the final order.

The 23-year-old from Eau Claire, Wis., now six races into his official Raybestos Rookie season, is looking finish what he started here last year when he and his fellow Busch competitors come to the outskirts of Music City USA for Saturday's Pepsi 300 on the 1.33-mile concrete tri-oval.

Since his Busch debut here last June, Menard has made 12 Busch starts and has made his presence known in a highly competitive series that more often than not includes a large handful of fulltime NASCAR Nextel Cup Series competitors. He ran an "ABC" (ARCA, Busch, and Nextel Cup/Craftsman Truck Series) schedule in 2003 that, in addition to the 12th-place run here in the Busch race, featured an ARCA victory at Talladega, an ARCA pole at Winchester, Ind., and a ninth-place Busch finish at Indianapolis.

Contesting the full NASCAR Busch Series schedule this season in the #33 Menards Chevrolet of Andy Petree Racing, Menard has been particularly immersed in the thick of the race action the past two weekends at Bristol and Texas. On the Bristol half-mile oval, Menard was working his way into the top 10 when an overheating problem ended his day during the final laps. At Texas last Saturday, he was forced to the back of the starting grid when the team needed to change motors after a problem during Happy Hour of final practice. Undeterred, Menard methodically worked his way well into the top 10 before ultimately settling for a 14th-place finish.

"We were definitely hooked up at Nashville last year and I've been waiting to get back," Menard said. "We were in the top five in practice, but had to start in the back since qualifying got rained out. We still were able to work our way into the top five in the race, and things were looking really good until I cut a tire. That set us way back, but we were still able to fight back for a decent finish. We didn't get the finish we thought we were going to get, but it got my Busch career off on the right foot and made me realize for sure that I could race with these guys."

Practice and qualifying this weekend begin Friday, with SPEED-TV carrying qualifying live at 4:30 p.m. EDT Friday. Race time Saturday is 4 p.m. EDT with a live broadcast set to begin at 3:30 p.m. EDT on the FX cable channel.

-tm-

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Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Andy Petree , Paul Menard