Earnhardt, Jr., Menards/Save Big Money Car, Cash In at Food City 250; Paul Menard's Promising Bristol Run Ended Early by Lapped Traffic BRISTOL, Tenn. (Friday, Aug. 27, 2004) -- Dale Earnhardt, Jr., made the most of his first race behind the...
Earnhardt, Jr., Menards/Save Big Money Car, Cash In at Food City 250;
Paul Menard's Promising Bristol Run Ended Early by Lapped Traffic
BRISTOL, Tenn. (Friday, Aug. 27, 2004) -- Dale Earnhardt, Jr., made the most of his first race behind the wheel of the #81 Menards/Save Big Money Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., by scoring a dominating victory in tonight's Food City 250 NASCAR Busch Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Meanwhile, regular Busch series driver Paul Menard and the #11 Menards/Turtle Wax DEI Chevrolet had what looked to be a certain top-10 finish ruined when a lapped car sent him into the wall on Lap 177 of tonight's scheduled 250-lap event. Heavy right-front suspension damage forced Menard out of the race for good. He was running 15th at the time and moving back into the top 10, where he spent the early stages of the race before several cars started finding their way out of pit sequence. Just 10 laps before the accident, in which the lapped car of Travis Geisler spun and punted him into the outside wall, Menard pitted for tires and fuel that were to take him to the end of the race. It was only his third DNF of the season.
For Earnhardt, Jr., a regular on the NASCAR Nextel Cup circuit since winning back-to-back Busch series championships in 1998 and 1999, it was his first victory on the grueling high-banked, half-mile Bristol oval. He had to endure several late-race restarts in tonight's caution-filled race (13 incidents amounted to 87 laps under yellow), including a green-white-checkered finish on Lap 256 under NASCAR's new race-finish format during which he had to fend off a fierce attack from Matt Kenseth.
The NASCAR Busch Series resumes next weekend on the 2-mile tri-oval at California Speedway in Fontana.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
"Man, it's something else to win at this place. It's so tough, it's so grueling, I really know now why my Daddy appreciated winning here so much. It was a lot of work, but it was a lot of fun. I'm just glad I didn't get wrecked at the end there. It's great to score the first NASCAR win for Menards. This is a new deal for us, and I've liked everything I've seen so far. It's great to see a group of people and see how they perform in a new environment. We started this thing only a few races ago with Paul (Menard), and I have to say I've been pleasantly surprised. And to get back in the Busch car and drive for Menards, to win the pole and the win the race, that's about as good as it gets."
"It's a shame we got put out when we did because the Menards/Turtle Wax car was actually starting to come around. We made some adjustments and it was pretty good. I guess it was the 36 (Travis Geisler) that got down on the apron, lost it and got into us. It's nobody's fault, really. He was trying to get out of our way, got down on the apron and he got loose. It was one of those deals. We started off really well. We drove our way into the top 10. It was a little bit loose and we tightened it up on our first pit stop and got too tight in the middle and it was a little loose getting in. So we came back on our adjustments a little bit the last time in the pits and it was as good or better than it was in the beginning. I was looking forward to a good top-10 finish. The right-front corner hit really hard. We're not running for points or anything, so we just loaded her up. It was great to see Dale, Jr., get the first win in a Menards car. That'll make the ride home just a little better!"