Charlotte: Paul Menard preview

NOTES OF INTEREST ON THE CHARLOTTE CAR Nextel Cup Primary Car: Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chassis ...


Nextel Cup Primary Car: Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chassis #22/ Back up Car #37
Last Used: California Speedway (February 2007)

Fun 'Cup' Fact: Crew Chief Tony Eury Sr. and the Menards Racing team will bring a car identical to the team's NASCAR Nextel Open entry from last weekend. While the two cars are virtually the same, set up wise, Menard favored this car over last weekend's car during last month's Charlotte Cup test.


Paul Menard heads to Charlotte with his sights on making his way into the top-35 in points. Menard's solid experience at the track (five NBS starts and one Cup start which resulted in a top-15 finish) is a motivating factor for the team hoping to climb out of the go or go homers and into a guaranteed starting spot.

Testing, Testing, One, Two, Three

Menards Racing was solidly in the top group of teams at the Charlotte test last month. The No. 15 team was third quick, in two of the four testing sessions and sixth quick in the final session of the two day test.

Over the Wall Crew Ready for the Extra Work

Menards Racing over-the-wall crew, trained by Walt Smith, is one of the best crews in the business. According to Walt, the team's pit stop times are among the top-ten in the series. The team's solid performance on pit road is something that gives Menard piece of mind on the race track. "It's much easier to pass cars on pit road than it is on the racetrack and this team usually picks me up a spot or two on pit road." Menard said of the over-the-wall crew.

COT Rookie Power

Menard's battle for Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors has improved over the last few weeks. Menard stands third in overall Raybestos Rookie ratings. He has 82 points, 38 points behind Juan Pablo Montoya who leads the battle with 120 points.

Working Towards Top-35

The No. 15 team sits 38th in Nextel Cup Owner's Standings, only 96 points outside of the top-35. Menard's 31st place finish in the last race at Darlington helped the No. 15 team close the gap three extra points (prior to Darlington, the team was 99 points out of the top-35).


Paul Menard on the Coca-Cola 600:

"It's a fast track and a great track to drive, but with the harder tire, you have to be really careful on those first few laps and let your tires warm up before you make any daring moves. Obviously you saw what can happen if you're impatient early in the Open last week. But the good news is that we got the car handling really well during the test and I'm actually looking forward to 400 laps of racing at Charlotte."

Nextel Cup Car Chief "B" Hoover on the Coca-Cola 600:

"Well we had a great test at Charlotte and we were really happy with our findings from practice last week so it should be a good weekend. It's a long race and we've made some allowances for driver comfort in the car, like an extra water bottle for Paul and some heat shields on the headers, but as far as race set up is concerned 600 miles is really no different for us than say a 400-mile race."

Paul Menard on his first season in Nextel Cup:

"We knew it was going to be a big struggle getting into the top 35 in points with probably the most competitive field of cars each week that there's ever been in the Cup series. Missing Daytona put us back. It was nobody's fault. We had a good race car and were in position to transfer from our qualifying race. The guy in front of me almost wrecked so we had to check up and lost all our speed. That allowed the other cars to catch up. ... It's a tough sport for sure. These guys are good."

Paul Menard on getting into the top 35 in the point standings: "I think it's reasonable to get in these next few weeks. Then we'll be locked in with the top 35. Then we can concentrate on racing and trying to get some good finishes."

-credit: dei/mr

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya