Tough Day at California Speedway Yields 21st-Place Finish For NASCAR Busch Series Rookie Paul Menard FONTANA, Calif. (Saturday, Sept. 4, 2004) -- Paul Menard and the ...
Tough Day at California Speedway Yields 21st-Place Finish For NASCAR Busch Series Rookie Paul Menard
FONTANA, Calif. (Saturday, Sept. 4, 2004) -- Paul Menard and the #11 Menards/Pittsburgh Paints Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., finished 21st in today's Target House 300 NASCAR Busch Series race at California Speedway.
Menard started 19th and battled extremely slippery conditions on a hot and sunny afternoon on the 2-mile tri-oval here. His DEI team remedied the situation, to an extent, when he pitted for the first time under green on Lap 49 of today's 150-lap event, having worked his way up to the ninth position during the first cycle of green-flag stops. Menard resumed in 25th and maintained that relative position through yellow-flag pit stops on Laps 59 and 76.
The run that followed saw Menard work his way all the way up to 12th position while stretching his fuel load to the limit and planning on a two-tire final stop in hopes of being able to do it under caution and rejoining the lead lap. Pushed to the limit, Menard had to pit for fuel and the planned two tires, only, on Lap 132, and he resumed in 18th. Sure enough, NASCAR threw a caution for debris just one lap later, and Menard still was a lap down. Now fighting an understeer condition, Menard did his best to keep the pace with the cars he was racing, and he came home 21st when the checkered flag flew.
Greg Biffle outdueled Casey Mears for the race win today, with Kevin Harvick taking third. Next up is next Friday night's Emerson Radio 250 on the three-quarter-mile oval at Richmond International Raceway.
"It was a tough day, just plain slippery at the start of the race. We just couldn't get on the gas hard at first. We fixed that on the first stop, and then it was just a four-wheel slide. We'll have to go back to the shop and figure out what happened there. We worked really hard to get back on the lead lap, and if the yellow (on Lap 134) would have come out just a lap or two earlier, we would've done it, and it could have been a whole different story for us at the end. But those are the breaks. You do what you can with what you've got. We'll just call it a day and head on to Richmond. We had a really good test there a few weeks ago, so I'm really looking forward to that one."