BUSCH: Dover II: Paul Menard preview

NOTES OF INTEREST ON THE DOVER CAR Nextel Cup Primary Car: Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chassis ...


Nextel Cup Primary Car: Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chassis #101/ Back up Car #102

Last Used: Menard's primary car for this weekend's Dodge Dealers 400 was last run at Bristol Motor Speedway in August, where Menard qualified 41st and finished 24th in the 500-lap event. Menard was extremely happy with the car by the end of the race, stating that the final laps were the best of the night.

Fun 'Cup' Fact: Menard has won Raybestos Rookie of the Race honors in three of the Car of Tomorrow events run this season (Richmond -- Spring; Phoenix -- Spring; Watkins Glen -- Summer)


While Paul Menard has yet to compete in a NASCAR Nextel Cup event or to lead a lap in NASCAR Busch Series competition at the Monster Mile, the 26-year Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate for Dale Earnhardt Inc. counts Dover International Speedway as one of his top three favorite racetracks.

Past Successes a Boost for Menard

Menard's Dale Earnhardt Inc. lineage has a solid Dover track record to support Menard's desire for success at the high-banked, one-mile concrete oval. While racing for Richard Childress, Dale Earnhardt Sr. notched three wins at Dover, sweeping the events in 1989. His understanding of the track translated to his namesake organization and in September of 2001, Dale Earnhardt Jr. brought home an emotional victory, winning the first race run following the September 11th attacks. Most recently, Menard's teammate Martin Truex Jr. won his first Cup race in the summer event at Dover, just four short months ago.

In addition to the Cup victories, DEI has been strong on the NASCAR Busch Series side, as well. Dale Jr. and Truex Jr. each own a pair of Dover Busch Series victories. Menard will look to his teammates for advice on how to battle the Monster Mile in his Nextel Cup rookie year.

There's More to Dover than the Racetrack...

Despite his focus on Dover success, racing isn't the only thing on Menard's mind when his plane lands in Delaware.

"There's this awesome steak joint in town." Menard said. "Cool Springs Fish Bar...you would never know it by the name, but it really is one of the best steaks I've ever had."

Raybestos Rookie Power

Currently, Menard stands third in overall Raybestos Rookie ratings. He has 178 points; 41 points behind Juan Pablo Montoya who leads the battle with 219 points. Menard has won Raybestos Rookie of the Race honors in four events this season, including Richmond, Michigan, Phoenix and Watkins Glen.

Standings Status

After Paul Menard's 24th place run at New Hampshire, he sits 34th in Driver's Points, while the No. 15 team maintained its 29th place spot in Owner's Standings. The team is has a 320 point cushion on the top-35.


Paul Menard on the Dodge Dealers 400:

"Even though we missed the Cup race in the summer, I love racing at Dover. Now that we don't have to worry about qualifying for the race, we can actually focus on getting a strong race run and enjoying the Dover racing action. It's like going for a ride on a roller coaster. There's no other track that gives you that exact feeling. You shoot in the corner like a bullet. I don't think our results at Dover show how strong we've been there and that's what I hope to change this weekend."

Nextel Cup Car Chief "B" Hoover on the Dodge Dealers 400:

"Paul likes Dover a lot. For a driver to go to a track thinking "I like this track" is a real boost for the whole team. We've worked really hard on our COT program in the last couple of months and I think we've come a long way, especially with the 1 and the 8 cars and most recently with the 15 car. Last week's race at New Hampshire is probably the best we've been as a team at a COT race, so hopefully we can keep that momentum going this week in Dover."

-credit: dei/mr

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Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya