BUSCH: Darlington: Paul Manard preview

It's Back to the Bump and Grind for Menard at Darlington For This Weekend's Diamond Hill Plywood 200 Busch Event DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 16, 2004) -- After a brief swing west, with a couple of weekends off on either side of it, Paul Menard...

It's Back to the Bump and Grind for Menard at Darlington For This Weekend's Diamond Hill Plywood 200 Busch Event

DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 16, 2004) -- After a brief swing west, with a couple of weekends off on either side of it, Paul Menard and his fellow NASCAR Busch Series competitors head to Darlington Raceway for this weekend's Diamond Hill Plywood 200 (Saturday, 1 p.m. EST).

From the high-speed, 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway tri-oval, where Menard engineered a finish of 21st after starting 23rd, the peculiar 1.366-mile egg-shaped Darlington layout looks particularly inviting to he and the #33 Menards/Peak Chevrolet team from Andy Petree Racing.

"On one hand, it's another new week, and another new track for me," said the 23-year-old Menard, an Eau Claire Wis., native now residing in Asheville, N.C. "It's the same story it's going to be at all but two tracks we're going to race on this season. This weekend at Darlington, it might be a good thing that I don't have a history there. With the new (SAFER) barriers they installed since the last time everybody was there, all the talk leading up to the race seems to be about how it's going to change the racing on the high side of the track. I won't have to re-learn the track, just learn it. Other than that, it's going to be a matter of maximizing our tire wear on a historically demanding track."

Since the Las Vegas event, the third of Menard's first full-time season on the Busch circuit, he and the team did not have the luxury of testing at Darlington as track crews were finalizing the SAFER barrier installation during the weeks and days leading up to this weekend's event. By the time they arrive at Darlington, however, Menard and the Petree team will have put in a solid day of testing on the high-banked, half-mile oval at Bristol, where the series reconvenes March 26-27.

"It will be good to do some close, side-by-side racing these next two weeks," Menard said. "Rockingham was all-new to us, but by the time we finished the race, I was very, very comfortable there. This track is night-and-day different in a lot of respects, but it should be a really strong weekend for us if we can get the car just right."

Practice and qualifying this weekend are Friday with the green flag set to fall on Saturday at 1 p.m. EST. SPEEDTV will broadcast Friday's qualifying live at 1:30 p.m EST, and FX will carry the race Saturday beginning with the pre-race show at 12:30 p.m. EST.

-mr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Andy Petree , Paul Menard