Menard Powers His Way to Best Career NASCAR Busch Finish, Takes Fifth in Tonight's Meijer 300 at Kentucky Speedway SPARTA, Ky. (Saturday, June 18, 2005) -- Paul Menard of Eau Claire, Wis., drove his ...
Menard Powers His Way to Best Career NASCAR Busch Finish, Takes Fifth in Tonight's Meijer 300 at Kentucky Speedway
SPARTA, Ky. (Saturday, June 18, 2005) -- Paul Menard of Eau Claire, Wis., drove his #11 Menards/Moen Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., to his career-best NASCAR Busch Series finish of fifth in tonight's Meijer 300 at Kentucky Speedway.
The 24-year-old Menard qualified 10th earlier today, his eighth top-10 starting spot of the season in 13 events where qualifying was not rained out. He worked his way up to fifth by Lap 26 of tonight's 200-lap, 300-mile event, where he stood until pitting for the first time under yellow on Lap 42 with tire pressure adjustments made to help rectify a slightly tight condition. Restarting in 10th on Lap 45 with several cars ahead of him that did not stop, Menard's DEI Chevrolet began to get significantly loose and he fell back 15 during a relatively short run that ended when the yellow flag came out again on Lap 70, enabling Menard to pit again to make further adjustments.
Restarting in 16th on Lap 73, Menard gradually worked his way back into the top 10 just before pitting a third and final time under green on Lap 136. From there, it took Menard just 14 laps to get back into the top 10 for good. He managed to stay out of trouble the rest of the way and brought home his best Busch series finish since placing ninth at Indianapolis Raceway Park in 2003. The fifth-place finished vaulted Menard all the way up to 14th in the drivers standings.
Next up for the NASCAR Busch Series is next Saturday night in Menard's home state on the famed Milwaukee Mile oval.
"All I can say is that was a long time coming -- our first top-five finish. I can't count how many times I thought we had a top five race car since last summer at New Hampshire, when this whole Menards DEI program got started. We were pretty strong at the start, but the track didn't do what we expected it to do after our first stop. We thought it would get tighter, but it actually went loose. Fortunately, we had a yellow fairly soon after our first stop so we could go back the other way. I'm happy to finally have a top-five under our belt. I'm really happy for all the guys. They've worked hard for this, and hopefully it leads to bigger and better things to come. I can't think of a better place to take this momentum than home to Wisconsin. Hopefully we can keep it going."