BUSCH: Bristol: Paul Menard preview

Menard, ...

Menard, #33 Menards/Moen Chevrolet Team Head to Thunder Valley For Saturday's Sharpie Professional 250 NASCAR Busch Series Race

BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 23, 2004) -- Having spent the better part of two-plus seasons contesting the NASCAR ReMax Challenge series in recent years, Paul Menard is no stranger to the shortest of short tracks.

The 23-year-old from Eau Claire, Wis., gets a welcome chance to utilize his short track expertise at this weekend's Sharpie Professional 250 NASCAR Busch Series event on the Bristol Motor Speedway half-mile oval.

Menard comes to Bristol after his first taste of the historic Darlington Raceway, where last weekend he qualified 22nd and finished 26th and completed another important chapter in the book of learning during this, his first full NASCAR Busch Series season.

On their way to Darlington, Menard and his Andy Petree Racing teammates spent a highly productive day dialing in the #33 Menards/Moen Chevrolet on the Bristol oval, putting them a step ahead of where they were when they arrived at the previous three stops on the 2004 Busch tour, tracks where they did not enjoy the luxury of testing prior to the race weekend.

"It will be good to go to a track where we were able to test," Menard said. "That hasn't been the case at the last few races since Daytona, and I think that might have left us feeling maybe a little less than satisfied on those race weekends. We had a great day at Bristol last Wednesday. Very productive, I think. So we should hit the ground running for practice and qualifying on Friday."

Like most of the drivers in all of NASCAR, Menard takes a particular liking to the Bristol track and the surroundings in Thunder Valley.

"In one sense, Bristol is the typical high-speed short track, which I love to race on," he said. "But what makes Bristol special are all the grandstands. It just seems to go on forever. And the people pack the place. It's a very, very special place and I can't wait to get on with the race weekend."

Practice and qualifying begin Friday with race time Saturday set for 1 p.m. EST and a live broadcast on the FOX network. The SPEEDTV cable channel will carry qualifying live at 1:30 p.m. EST on Friday.


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Drivers Andy Petree , Paul Menard