BUSCH: Loudon: Paul Menard preview

Menard, ...

Menard, #11 DEI Busch Team Return to the Scene Where it All Started At This Weekend's New England 200 at New Hampshire

LOUDON, N.H. (July 13, 2005) -- Paul Menard and the #11 Menards/Pittsburgh Paints Chevrolet team return to the mile oval at New Hampshire International Speedway where it all started for them a year ago this weekend, and they're on quite a roll together as they prepare for Saturday's New England 200 NASCAR Busch Series race.

A string of four consecutive single-digit finishes -- fifth at Kentucky, third at Milwaukee, sixth at Daytona and ninth last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway -- has Menard and his teammates feeling the ultimate single-digit finish of them all is within reach.

This weekend's opportunity comes on the same mile oval where Menard qualified 11th and finished 18th in his very first Busch series outing with the Dale Earnhardt, Inc., team. In the year of racing since, Menard has earned his first two career Busch series poles, led his first Busch series laps during stellar runs at Daytona, Richmond and Talladega, and during this recent stretch scored his first Busch series top-10 finishes since placing ninth at Indianapolis Raceway Park in 2003, his inaugural season.

"We've gotten into quite a groove these last several races and it just shows what happens when hard work and dedication really start paying off," said Menard, whose ninth-place run at Chicago last Saturday was a particularly hard-earned one, coming from the 31st spot on the starting grid. "Dan Stillman, our crew chief, really has everyone working well together at the shop and at the racetrack. We've been solid pretty much since the beginning of the season, but we just weren't able to completely avoid the bad racing luck that can mess up a really good effort until just recently. I hope we can keep it going at New Hampshire and maybe end up with the ultimate payoff. The guys certainly deserve it because they've worked hard for it."

The entire DEI organization got a welcome shot in the arm with the season's first Nextel Cup victory this past Sunday by Dale Earnhardt, Jr., whose familiar #8 Chevrolet also carries the familiar Menards logo as an associate sponsor. Menard and his #11 team are hoping for a little trickle-down effect here at New Hampshire this weekend.

"Needless to say, everyone's got a bounce in their step at DEI these days," Menard said. "The recent successes, particularly our top-10 finishes, are something everyone's worked long and hard for, but we're definitely not taking them for granted. They just motivate everybody, including myself, to work harder than ever. The other Busch team (defending series champion Martin Truex's #8 DEI Chevrolet) is leading the points. We're closing in on the top 10. They're introducing Ryan Moore to the Busch series this weekend. Dale, Jr., is coming off his first win. There's a lot going on and we're really looking forward to getting to the track."

Practice for the New England 200 begins at 11 a.m. EDT Friday with final practice set for 2:45 p.m. Qualifying, to be broadcast live by SPEED-TV, is set for 10 a.m. EDT Saturday. Race time Saturday is 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage by the TNT cable network.

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Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Martin Truex Jr. , Paul Menard