BUSCH: Chicagoland: Paul Menard race report

Joliet, IL -- The highs and lows of the racing world were felt by Menards Racing during the Chicagoland Speedway race weekend. After turning in his best qualifying effort of the 2007 season, driver Paul Menard was elated. "The draw helped for...

Joliet, IL -- The highs and lows of the racing world were felt by Menards Racing during the Chicagoland Speedway race weekend.

After turning in his best qualifying effort of the 2007 season, driver Paul Menard was elated.

"The draw helped for sure." Menard said of his 49th place qualifying draw which made him the last car to qualify on Friday afternoon. "Anytime you go late when the sun starts going down is for the better."

While the worries of qualifying for each race may weigh on his mind, Menard knows his Dale Earnhardt Inc. team is behind him and equipped for success.

"Give me great race cars like Dave Charpentier [crew chief] and all the guys have and we'll be just fine." Menard said. " We'll keep chipping away at the top-35."

With Menard set to start 16th in Sunday's race, he turned his attention to his NASCAR Busch Series entry.

Menard qualified 21st for Saturday's USG Durock 300.  Never content
to ride in  the back, Menard thundered up to the top-15 by lap 15.

"The car is handling awesome." Menard radioed in under caution on lap 81.

Crew Chief Mike Grechi worked with Charpentier to keep up with the changing track conditions and the results were continually positive.

At the halfway point of the race, Menard was up into the top-10 and hung on to the spot through the closing laps of the racing. By the time the checkered flag flew Menard brought his No. 15 Menards/Akona Chevrolet home in sixth place, his best finish of the 2007 NASCAR Busch Series season.

"The guys had awesome pit stops today." Menard said following the 200-lap event. "We picked up spots on pit road during every stop."

The over the wall crew's hard work was rewarded with top honors. The No. 15 team won the Checkers/Rally's Double Drive-Thru Challenge Award.

With the first of two races behind him, Menard turned his focus back to his NASCAR Nextel Cup entry.

Having noticed a problem with the motor near the end of practice, Charpentier investigated the problem and found a broken gasket. The team changed engines Saturday night, but noticed a problem with the oil line of the new motor on Sunday morning. Knowing it could be a problem, the team prepared for the worst and the worst was what was to come as Menard started smoking on the first turn of the 267-lap race.

"Our valve latch opened up after practice and they caught that after Happy Hour [on Saturday]." Menard explained. "We decided to change the motor so we didn't get to practice at all. It turns out the motor we put in we had an oil line that knocked itself loose and it was spitting oil and caught the car on fire. It wasn't that big of a deal but I think they used a little too much fire extinguisher on it and made a big mess and we had to clean that all up and replace the lining and go back out, a hundred laps down or whatever it was."

Menard finished Sunday's race, 131 laps down in 42nd position.

-credit: dei/mr

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