Paul Menard Shows Strength at Charlotte -- Pit Road Problem Results in 13th Place Finish Concord, NC -- During the TNT telecast of the Dollar General 300, guest commentator Kyle Petty stated, "Drivers are not the most optimistic people in the ...
Paul Menard Shows Strength at Charlotte -- Pit Road Problem Results in 13th Place Finish
Concord, NC -- During the TNT telecast of the Dollar General 300, guest commentator Kyle Petty stated, "Drivers are not the most optimistic people in the world."
While that may be true for most, Paul Menard's positive attitude throughout the 2006 NASCAR Busch Series race season makes him an exception to the rule.
Further proving the point, Paul Menard's night in Charlotte, North Carolina was one of survival. The caution filled, action-packed 200-lap event provided a good show for race fans but offered Menard a demanding day at the track. Despite the challenges and the resulting 13th place finish in the event, Menard staying surprisingly positive.
"I thought we had shot at the win there tonight, but it didn't happen." Menard reasoned. "It was still a good day, though. We've learned a lot about our intermediate track program in that last couple of weeks. We'll take that and use it to improve our chances at Texas and Homestead."
Prior to the Green Flag, the team's foray into the Friday night race gave crew chief Tony Eury Sr. reason to believe Menard would be in contention for his second win of the season.
"We were really good in race trim so I know Paul will be up front before too long." Eury said.
After turning in a sixth place qualifying run, Menard had positive feedback for Eury and the other members of the Menards Racing team.
"It was a bit snug in the center but other than that, it felt awesome guys." Menard reported after recording a lap speed of 184.938 mph. Menard lined up alongside Casey Mears in the third row for the start of the race.
Once taking the green flag, Menard wasted little time advancing through the field. On lap two Menard was shown in fourth place. When the first caution flag of the night flew on lap three, Menard had captured a spot in the top three.
When the race went green, Eury reported to Menard that he was consistently running the fastest laps in the field.
"I think I'm beating everyone off of four." Menard responded. "It's really good there but still tight in one and two."
Menard hung onto the third place spot until he came down pit road on lap 37. After the crew performed a four tire, fuel and air pressure pit stop, Menard returned to the track in 15th spot. While Menard worked his way up to 11th by lap 41, he radioed the crew that the car was not as good as it was on the last run.
"I think these stickers are really hurting us." Menard said. "It's really loose off right now."
Menard's report of a handling problem turned out to be more of an issue than his expert handling of the racecar would have shown. When he came down pit road on lap 97, the team found a blister in the right, front tire.
"You're doing a great job out there Paul." Eury said. "You're driving quite a race!"
Menard was back into the top five when the field began an extended green flag run. On lap 171 Menard led the field briefly before Eury called him in for his green flag pit stop. Everything was going well for the Menards Racing team, when the crew inadvertently rolled a tire during the stop. Menard was called back in for a pass through penalty -- especially discouraging during a green flag run. As a result, Menard went one lap down and was shown in the 17th position when the caution flag flew on lap 183.
Menard did his best to work his way up through the lapped cars, but only managed to earn the 13th spot when the checkered flag flew.
"We were good today." Menard said following the race. "It may not have ended the way we would have liked, but that's racing. Now we'll go to Memphis and try to get our second win."
The NASCAR Busch Series will enjoy their final off weekend of the year, prior to heading to Memphis Motorsports Park where Menard will make his 100th NASCAR Busch Series career start.
-credit: menards racing