BUSCH: Dover: Paul Menard preview

Dover's Monster Mile Awaits a Determined Menard and His ...

Dover's Monster Mile Awaits a Determined Menard and His #11 DEI Team At Saturday's MBNA RacePoints 200 NASCAR Busch Series Race

DOVER, Del. (May 31, 2005) -- Paul Menard and the #11 Menards/Peak Chevrolet team of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., are coming off their best finish of the season and have some fire in their eyes as they hope to tame the famed Monster Mile oval at Dover International Speedway and this weekend's MBNA RacePoints 200 NASCAR Busch Series event.

The 24-year-old Menard and his teammates come to Dover knowing the 12th place they have to show for last Saturday night's Busch race at Charlotte doesn't do justice to the solid qualifying effort of fifth and top-10 race run that was spoiled just two turns from the finish.

"It was just the latest unfortunate example of how things have been going for us in this last stretch of races," said Menard, who looked certain to finally equal or better his career-best Busch finish of ninth before being forced up into the Turn Three wall at Charlotte and lost a handful of spots on his way to the 12th-place finish. "We're rock solid in qualifying most everywhere we go. We've improved all year long on our ability to be there at the end. It just hurt to get body-slammed into the wall like that, to see a great effort by all the guys get tainted, just because somebody wanted to be a hero."

That Menard's best finish of the season is only a modest 12th at this point also does not do justice to the kind of season he and his DEI teammates have been experiencing. Seven top-10 qualifying efforts in the first 13 events is a testament to their ability to find speed when they need it. Stellar race-leading efforts at Daytona and Talladega continue to make them the ones to beat at those restrictor-plate tracks. Another race-leading effort at Richmond and solid runs at Bristol and Phoenix show the team's strength on the short tracks. Getting caught up in other people's misfortunes -- or other people's mistakes -- has come to be the team's No. 1 nemesis.

"The good news at Charlotte was we still ended up with a pretty decent finish," Menard said. "Despite all that's happened, we're still doing pretty well in the points (20th) with a lot of races to go, and if we can get past all the unforeseen stuff, we can make a solid run at a top-10 in the points by the end of the year. The guys are more determined than ever to make it happen for us, and I'm ready to tighten my belts and do my part at Dover this weekend."

Practice for Saturday's MBNA RacePoints 200 is set for Thursday with hour-long sessions set to start at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. EDT. Qualifying is set for 1:30 p.m. EDT Friday with live coverage provided by SPEED-TV. Race time Saturday is 1:35 p.m. EDT with the FX cable network's live show beginning with pre-race activities at 1 p.m. EDT.


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Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Paul Menard