BUSCH: Phoenix II: Paul Menard preview

Mooresville, NC -- Menards Racing continually proves it is a team deserving of a second victory in 2006. After three frustrating weeks of racing, Menard heads to Phoenix International Raceway with a sense of restlessness that can only come from...

Mooresville, NC -- Menards Racing continually proves it is a team deserving of a second victory in 2006. After three frustrating weeks of racing, Menard heads to Phoenix International Raceway with a sense of restlessness that can only come from being so close to Victory Lane, so many times.

"We've been in the hunt in nearly every one of the last five or six races." Menard said. "Whether it was pit road problems or another driver getting into the Menards Chevy, something has happened to put an end to our chance of winning."

In keeping with that idea, Menard's solid springtime performance at Phoenix International Raceway was marred by late race trouble. After working throughout the race to improve the handling of the racecar, Menard was headed for a top-five finish. While running in seventh place, the No. 11 Menards Chevrolet was caught up in a multi-car wreck. Damage to the car was minimal, but Menard's 20th place restart left him with less than ten laps to move up through the field and forced the Dale Earnhardt Inc. driver to settle for a 17th place finish.

"It was just a huge disappointment after we avoided countless other wrecks in the first 180 laps." Menard said. "Whatever causes the problem, the result is still the same -- another race we could have won, but didn't."

Menard's Phoenix power extends beyond the NASCAR Busch Series arena. A last lap pass of NASCAR veteran Kenny Schrader resulted in a Southwest Tour Series Victory at the track in 2002. Earlier that year, Menard had brought home a Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series win from PIR. His successful stints at the track that season resulted in some well deserved short track racing accolades that now provide the perfect foundation for another trip to Victory Lane.

"Winning the Tour Series race at Phoenix was a big day for me and my career," Menard said. "It helps going back to a track, knowing you've seen the inside of Victory Lane before. Helps you feel like you can definitely get back there again."

Menard has improved performances in every NASCAR Busch Series race at Phoenix, highlighted by an outside pole win in last year's spring race. Crediting his continued improvement to the solid backing of his Dale Earnhardt Inc. team, Menard knows that Crew Chief Tony Eury Sr. is a big part of the team's potential for success in this weekend's Arizona Travel 200.

"We're obviously building towards next year's Cup program." Menard said of his goals for the duration of the 2006 race season. "But that doesn't take away from our focus on winning another Busch race before the end of the year."

Clearly, Menard's chance to win at Phoenix is good. Menard won the Milwaukee Busch Series event in June -- a track very similar to this site of this weekend's 200-lap event.

"Every driver has favorite tracks, and Phoenix is definitely one of mine" Menard said. "Phoenix has always been known for some of the best door-handle-to-door-handle racing. It's the kind of racing I grew up with and I'd be great to get to Victory Lane this weekend."

-credit: mr

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Paul Menard