Menard Looks To Finish What He Started Under the Lights at Bristol; Earnhardt, Jr., Makes First Busch Appearance in 'Save Big Money' Car BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 25, 2004) -- The last time Paul Menard took to the Bristol Motor Speedway half-mile...
Menard Looks To Finish What He Started Under the Lights at Bristol; Earnhardt, Jr., Makes First Busch Appearance in 'Save Big Money' Car
BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 25, 2004) -- The last time Paul Menard took to the Bristol Motor Speedway half-mile oval -- in the NASCAR Busch Series race here last spring -- he was charging his way toward the top 10 with one of the fastest cars in the 43-car field.
An overheating problem ended his day early, though, and left him wondering what might have been. It was one of only two DNFs this year for the Eau Claire, Wis., native, a Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender who switched to the #11 Menards/Turtle Wax Chevrolet team of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., since that fateful day here in March.
This weekend, Menard hopes to finish the job with his new team, which last weekend at Michigan was sent home early as Friday qualifying was rained out and there were not enough owners points accumulated in just three races together to make it onto the starting grid. Thus, Menard had to celebrate his 24th birthday Saturday watching the race on TV at home.
"We had the fastest car in morning practice at Michigan, so it was another case of what might have been," said Menard, who will have another Menards-sponsored teammate for Friday night's Food City 250 -- Dale Earnhardt, Jr., in the #81 Menards/Save Big Money DEI Chevrolet. "Obviously, there's absolutely nothing we can do about the weather. On the bright side, it gave us a head start on our preparations for this weekend at Bristol. I had a really good run there last spring, and I'm really looking forward to running with Dale, Jr., on our side. Under the lights at Bristol is always a special event. I can't wait to get there and get to work."
For Earnhardt, Jr., it will be his first Busch appearance at Bristol since he drove to runner-up finishes in the 1998 and 1999 spring races, and a third-place finish in his last Busch start at the track in the 1999 August race. He also started on the pole in the 1998 spring race. In all, he has 19 career Busch wins, including this year's season opener at Daytona, and more than $3 million in winnings.
Practice for the Food City 250 begins Thursday morning with single-car qualifying set to begin at 3 p.m. EDT. SPEED-TV will carry the qualifying show live. Race time Friday is 8 p.m. EDT with a live broadcast set for the TNT cable network.