BUSCH: Homestead: Paul Menard preview

Menard, ...

Menard, #11 Peak Antifreeze Team from DEI in Hot Pursuit of Victory At Homestead NASCAR Busch Series 300 Season Finale

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Nov. 15, 2005) -- Paul Menard and his #11 Menards/Peak Antifreeze Chevrolet teammates from Dale Earnhardt, Inc., return to scene of one of their most promising weekends together when they take to the Homestead Miami Speedway mile-and-a-half oval for Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series 300.

It's the last race of the season and their last chance to get that elusive first victory together. Judging by last year's weekend here, it could very well happen. The Menards Chevrolet was fast right off the truck in opening practice. Menard then qualified a solid third, but then had to go to the back of the starting grid after a mechanical problem during Happy Hour forced the DEI crew to change motors. Undeterred, Menard made the most of his fast race car by methodically working his way up to third place with 59 laps to go. Then came the unwelcome radio call from Menard that said his engine let go with just 23 laps to go. C'est la vie!

"We were definitely one of the fastest cars on the track all weekend, and I'm confident we'll be able to find that groove again this year and make something really good happen," said Menard, who's a virtual lock for seventh place in the final drivers standings. "Last year, everything felt so right. We took to the track well from the very start. Mechanical problems are going to happen from time to time. It's just awful when they happen on a weekend when you've got the car to beat. Let's just see if we can do something about that this time around."

The Homestead track certainly suited Menard and his bright yellow racing machine well. Coming off back-to-back finishes out of the top 10 (17th at Texas, 13th last weekend at Phoenix) for the first time since the first half of the season, Menard and his teammates are motivated by, among other things, the chance to set the stage for a bonafide Busch series title run in 2006.

"It's a great track to drive, very conducive to good racing, because it's not line-sensitive at all," said Menard, who also will be practicing and qualifying the #7 Nextel Cup car this weekend while its regular driver, Robby Gordon, competes in the Baja 1000 off-road event. "That's great for everybody, and especially great if you have a great race car because you can actually drive your way to the front, which is not the case at a lot of other tracks. I'm looking to close out our season on a high note."

Practice for Saturday's 200-lap main event begins at noon EST Friday, with the Happy Hour of final practice set for 2:50 p.m. EST. Qualifying will be at 11 a.m. EST Saturday with live coverage on SPEED-TV. Race time is 4 p.m. EST with NBC carrying all the action live.


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Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Robby Gordon , Paul Menard