BUSCH: Indy IRP: Paul Menard preview

Menard, On a Streak of Top-10 NASCAR Busch Series Finishes, Returns to the Scene of His First at Saturday Night's Kroger 200 CLERMONT, Ind. (Aug. 3, 2005) -- Riding a streak of six top-10 finishes in his last seven events, Paul Menard and his...

Menard, On a Streak of Top-10 NASCAR Busch Series Finishes, Returns to the Scene of His First at Saturday Night's Kroger 200

CLERMONT, Ind. (Aug. 3, 2005) -- Riding a streak of six top-10 finishes in his last seven events, Paul Menard and his #11 Menards/Moen Chevrolet teammates from Dale Earnhardt, Inc., come to the track where he scored his first-ever NASCAR Busch Series top-10 for Saturday night's Kroger 200 at Indianapolis Raceway Park.

Menard's fifth-place finish on the mile-and-a-quarter egg-shaped oval at Gateway International Raceway last Saturday night was his third top-five during that seven-race stretch, in which his only non-top-10 run was his 12th-place effort at Pikes Peak two weekends ago. Only three drivers (Martin Truex, Carl Edwards and Clint Bowyer) have scored more points in the drivers standings than the 24-year-old Menard in the last seven events. He currently holds down the 10th position in the standings after climbing all the way from 18th on June 11.

"It's a great time to be part of the 11 team," said Menard, who in only his fifth career Busch series start drove an Andy Petree Racing entry to ninth place here in 2003. "We seem to be clicking on all cylinders with great car preparation by (crew chief) Dan Stillman and the boys at the shop, great qualifying efforts, and great pit stops and strategy during the last several races. We're looking more and more like the championship-contending team we always thought we would be. It didn't happen overnight because it took a lot of hard work, some heartache and frustration to get us to this point. But if we just keep our heads down and keep digging like we have, we'll keep getting better and better."

Menard and his teammates would like nothing more than another "first" here at IRP this weekend -- their first victory together -- which would be all the sweeter as IRP is deep in the heart of Menards Home Improvement Super Center territory. The way things have been going, it's doubtful anyone in the Busch garage would be surprised as the 11 team has been riding a streak that began with Menard's first career top-five at Kentucky, followed by finishes of third at Milwaukee, sixth at Daytona, ninth at Chicago, and seventh at New Hampshire before the Pikes Peak and Gateway events.

"I don't even want to talk about winning because if we just keep doing what we've been doing, and staying out of trouble like we have during this latest stretch, it'll take care of itself," said Menard, who started 26th and finished 20th here a year ago in only his third start with the DEI team. "But when it happens, man is it going to be sweet!"

The Kroger 200 is a one-day show with practice beginning at 10 a.m. local time (11 a.m. EDT) Saturday, followed by final practice at noon local time (1 p.m. EDT). Qualifying, to be broadcast live by SPEED-TV, begins at 5 p.m. local time (6 p.m. EDT). Race time is 7:30 p.m. local time (8:30 p.m. EDT) with the TNT cable network providing the live coverage.

-dei/mr-

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Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Andy Petree , Martin Truex Jr. , Paul Menard , Carl Edwards , Clint Bowyer