Martinsville: Paul Menard preview

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

NOTES OF INTEREST ON THE CAR/TRUCK

Nextel Cup Primary Car:
Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chassis #12 / Back up Car #16

Last Raced:
This is a brand new Car of Tomorrow, built at DEI during the off season and tested at Bristol Motor Speedway during pre season testing. It was also tested at South Boston Speedway in March.

Fun Fact:
Paul Menard's Crew Chief (Tony Eury Sr.) and Car Chief ("B" Hoover) were both on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s team in 2003 and 2004. During that time, Earnhardt Jr. never qualified worse than fourth at Martinsville Speedway.

OVERALL NOTES OF INTEREST

Menard will play double duty of a different sort this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. In addition to his NASCAR Nextel Cup Series program, Menard will race a Craftsman Truck for Billy Balew Motorsports in Saturday's Kroger 250. While Sunday's race will be Menard's first short track start in a Cup car, Menard's previous Martinsville experience includes a 12th place finish in last year's NASCAR Busch Series event, in which Menard also led for 23 laps.

Testing, Testing, One, Two, Three

Menard tested chassis #101 at Carraway Speedway (NC) on Monday, March 26th in preparation for this weekend's Goody's Cool Orange 500. At the test, however, Menard decided he preferred chassis #12, which had been run at Bristol during NASCAR preseason testing. Therefore, Crew Chief Tony Eury Sr. plans to apply the findings from Monday's test session to Menard's favored chassis and race it this weekend instead.

Curb Your Enthusiasm

According to Menard's car chief, drivers need to beware of the curb surrounding the .526-mile oval track. With lap times being separated by one-hundredths in qualifying, even brief contact with the curb could be the difference between qualifying in the top-10 and not making the race.

Raybestos Rookie of the Year Notes

Menard stands third in overall Raybestos rookie ratings. He has 32 points, 25 points behind David Ragan and Juan Pablo Montoya who are currently tied at 57 points apiece.

Cheese and Beer a Plus at Martinsville

Wisconsin bred racers are notorious for short track excellence, but more specifically Raybestos Rookie contenders hailing from the Dairy State have historically done well in their first Cup races at Martinsville Speedway. In 1986, Alan Kulwicki finished fourth in his first appearance at the track; three years later Dick Trickle finished third in the same event. Dave Marcis is the only Wisconsin driver to visit Victory Lane at Martinsville. He won the Old Dominion 500 in September of 1975.

Time for a Truck

While Menard tested a Craftsman Truck at Martinsville Speedway in 2003, this will be his first Truck Series start at the "Paper-clip"-shaped oval. Menard has five previous NCTS starts. His best qualifying effort is 15th and his best finishing position is 8th, both coming at Kansas Speedway in 2003. His most recent NCTS start was at South Boston Speedway in 2003.

Working Towards Top-35

The No. 15 team sits 42nd in Nextel Cup Owner's Standings, only 84 points outside of the top-35. The standings reset weekly, meaning a guaranteed spot in the field could be just around the corner for Menards Racing.

QUOTES ON MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY

Paul Menard Quote on the Goody's Cool Orange 500:

"We tested at Carraway this week and made some headway on the COT. We didn't test our Martinsville car, but we'll use what we learned there and apply it to our Martinsville car. We're definitely at a disadvantage right now, trying to play catch up with the points, but Pops and the boys will get it figured out. It would have been great to be in the top-35 so we could focus on race setup and getting another top 20 at Martinsville. But we'll just have to get it done on Friday in qualifying and hope Saturday's practice goes well so we can be in contention for a top-20 or even a top-15. It would probably take a top-15 on Sunday to get into the top-35, so that's what we'll shoot for."

Paul Menard Quote on the Kroger 250:

"Martinsville is such a cool track and the Trucks put on a good show there. The last time I raced a truck was at South Boston in 2003, which is actually a lot like Martinsville. I don't have a ton of experience at the track, so it will be good to get in some laps before the Cup race. We ran the Busch race here last year and stayed in or around the top ten all day so I'm definitely excited about this weekend."

Nextel Cup Car Chief "B" Hoover on the Goody's Cool Orange 500:

"It's going to be another nail biter this weekend. Qualifying times here are so close -- like one-hundredths separates the top ten qualifiers so that first lap Paul runs is going to have to be perfect. We chose #12 as our primary car because Paul like the front end geometry on this car a lot better than the car we originally planned to race. We made some changes based on what we learned Monday at Carraway and I think it's going to be really good. The fact that Paul's running the Truck race will probably help him on the Cup side. Trucks are heavy and big, kinda like the COT, so if anything the extra laps around the track can't hurt."

-credit: mr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup , NASCAR Truck
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya