BUSCH: Bristol: Paul Menard preview

Menard Out To Finish What He Started -- Twice -- in 2004 As ...

Menard Out To Finish What He Started -- Twice -- in 2004 As #11 Menards/Quaker State Chevrolet Heads to Bristol

BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 30, 2005) -- It's short-track time for Paul Menard and the #11 Menards/Quaker State Chevrolet team from Dale Earnhardt, Inc., as the NASCAR Busch Series moves up the road to the Bristol Motor Speedway half-mile, high-banked oval for Saturday's Sharpie Professional 250.

The 24-year-old Menard, from Eau Claire, Wis., flirted with potential top-10 finishes on the famed concrete short oval during both Busch series events last year, only to have unforeseen circumstances pull him out of contention on both occasions. This weekend, he'd like nothing better than to race all the way to the checkered flag and finish the success story on one of his favorite circuits -- once and for all.

"Bristol is definitely a unique track and it makes for some really great racing. We took to it right away during both our trips there last year," said Menard, who's top-10 bid last spring ended with overheating problems while last August he was put out by a lapped car that spun up into him from the apron. "Both races were an awful lot of fun while they lasted. It was a shame to get put out the way we did because we were having so much fun and things looked so good for the finish both times. This year, we'll just have to believe the odds are in our favor when it comes to our chances of being there at the end."

The Menards DEI team is bringing back the same bright yellow #11 racing machine that ran in the top 10 throughout the first half of the August night race here in 2004. But while it ended in disappointment for Menard, the race was an overwhelming success for DEI's #81 Menards/Save Big Money Chevrolet team, which scored a dominating wire-to-wire victory at the hands of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. This weekend, Menard and his #11 teammates hope to reignite some of that magic into another top finish.

"Any given weekend, it's entirely possible," Menard said.  "But there
are a lot of great drivers and teams who can say the same thing.  Our day
will come.  We're getting closer and closer every week."

Practice begins Friday at 1:40 p.m. EST, with the final hour of practice set for 4 p.m. EST with a live broadcast on SPEED-TV. Qualifying, also to be televised live on SPEED-TV, is set for Saturday at 11:30 a.m. EST. Race time Saturday is 2 p.m. EST with live coverage on the FOX broadcast network.


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Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Paul Menard