Menard Salvages 19th Place at Atlanta NASCAR Busch Race After Potential Top-10 Run Ruined By Late-Race Spin HAMPTON, Ga. (Saturday, Oct. 30, 2004) -- NASCAR Busch Series rookie Paul Menard's bid for his first top-10 finish of the season fell...
Menard Salvages 19th Place at Atlanta NASCAR Busch Race After Potential Top-10 Run Ruined By Late-Race Spin
HAMPTON, Ga. (Saturday, Oct. 30, 2004) -- NASCAR Busch Series rookie Paul Menard's bid for his first top-10 finish of the season fell just nine laps short in today's Aaron's 312 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Menard, the 24-year-old out of Eau Claire, Wis., was running ninth on Lap 194 of today's scheduled 203-lap event around the 1.5-mile quad-oval here when he was preparing to serve a black-flag penalty issued by NASCAR for allegedly passing on the left during a Lap 192 restart. He was running in close quarters with the car of Clint Bowyer when Menard and the #11 Menards/Pittsburgh Paints Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., spun on the backstretch, was hit by another car, and came to a stop in the infield grass. After a check for damage, the crew sent Menard back out on track, albeit two laps down.
He managed a 19th-place finish, his 12th top-20 finish this season. Defending NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Matt Kenseth scored the victory today.
Next up is next weekend's event on the mile oval at Phoenix International Raceway, the third-to-last event of 2004.
"We had another good run until the end. The DEI guys had great pit stops all day long, just like last week (at Memphis). The picked up spots for me on our last two stops. We were in position to get our first top-10 of the season. NASCAR, for some reason, black flagged us for passing to the left before the start-finish line on the restart. I really don't think that was the case. Tony (Gibson, crew chief) was protesting the call because it remains to be seen whether I did pass on the left. Regardless, I was trying to get to the bottom (of the track) so I could pit and the next thing I knew I was sideways. I really don't know how or why it happened. We got hit in the right rear and I drove the car in for a look because I wasn't sure if there was something seriously broken back there. We were able to get back out there and finish the race. It was a strange ending to a day that was looking really good for so long. We'll get 'em next week on the short track."