BUSCH: Dover II: Paul Menard preview

Richmond Runner-Up Menard and His ...

Richmond Runner-Up Menard and His #11 Pittsburgh Paints DEI Chevrolet Are Back in Black for Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series Dover 200

DOVER, Del. (Sept. 20, 2005) -- Fresh off yet another career-best NASCAR Busch Series finish, Paul Menard and the #11 Menards/Pittsburgh Paints Chevrolet team from Dale Earnhardt, Inc., are back in black for Saturday afternoon's Dover 200 on the famed Monster Mile oval.

The 25-year-old from Eau Claire, Wis., led another 66 laps on the three-quarter-mile oval at Richmond two weekends ago and dueled Nextel Cup regular Kevin Harvick to the checkered flag in earning the first runner-up finish of his Busch series career. It was Menard's fourth top-five and 12th top-12 finish during a remarkable run that began back in mid-June at Kentucky Speedway. In that time, Menard and his teammates haven fallen into quite a groove and have proven to be quite the models of consistency on the Busch tour. Most notably, Menard has climbed his way from 18th to seventh in the drivers standings and, with seven races remaining, has an outside shot at finishing in the top five in the points.

First things first, Menard & Company come to Dover with the #11 Menards racing machine outfitted in the stunning black paint scheme they took to the track on the half-mile concrete oval at Bristol. They're focused on taming what has come to be one of Menard's favorite tracks on the circuit. It's one that he and his teammates have managed to figure out during their two previous appearances here together, but one that on race days has seen their driver have to endure more than his fair share of not-so-good racing luck. Last June, Menard had a solid race car on the Monster Mile but had to start mid-pack after rain washed out qualifying. Then, early in the race, another competitor slid up into him and flattened his left-rear tire, forcing an unscheduled pit stop that set him back. Another pair of unscheduled stops followed to remedy a loose left-rear wheel later in the race and that took Menard out of contention. Fortunately, it was just two weeks later that Menard finished fifth at Kentucky, then third the following weekend at Milwaukee, as he embarked on his latest streak of top finishes.

"We come back to one of my favorite tracks with a clean slate, a ton of momentum, and one sharp-looking black race car," Menard said. "Knock on wood, ever since our last race here, we've pretty much been able to stay away from the kind of stuff that happened to us that weekend, and that's been the key to our consistent finishes in the top 10. We came here to test last week before our weekend off and I'd say everything went pretty well, so we're looking to hit the ground running when practice starts Friday afternoon. Everyone has been pretty jazzed since Richmond. Let's just see if we can pick up right where we left off."

Practice for the Dover 200 begins Thursday with a pair of hour-long sessions set for 2 p.m. EDT and 4 p.m. EDT. Qualifying is Friday at 1:35 p.m. EDT, with SPEED-TV's tape-delayed coverage beginning at 2 p.m. EDT. The 200-lap main event is set for Saturday at 1 p.m. EDT with the TNT cable network providing the live coverage.


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Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Kevin Harvick , Paul Menard