BUSCH: Loudon: Paul Menard preview

Menard Set for ...

Menard Set for #11 Dale Earnhardt, Inc., Racing Debut at Saturday's Siemens 200 NASCAR Busch Series Event

LOUDON, N.H. (July 21, 2004) -- It'll be like the beginning of a whole, new NASCAR Busch Series season this weekend for Paul Menard as he straps himself for the very first time into his brand new #11 Menards/Pittsburgh Paints Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., for Saturday's Siemens 200 at New Hampshire International Raceway.

After contesting the first 14 NASCAR Busch Series events this year in the familiar blue and rainbow-striped #33 Menards-sponsored entry of Andy Petree Racing, the 23-year-old Menard, of Eau Claire, Wis., joins forces with a racing powerhouse and takes on a stunning, new look, which features the bright yellow colors of his #11 DEI racing machine.

Even though Menard hasn't raced since the first weekend of June at Dover while working feverishly transitioning all the many elements of the Menards NASCAR program over to his new team, he's more than ready to go this weekend after a successful test with DEI on the mile oval here at NHIS two weeks ago. With veteran crew chief Tony Gibson calling the shots for the #11 car and crew, Menard's outlook is a hopeful one as he joins a DEI organization that has two recent NASCAR Busch Series championships to its credit and currently shows another team in the family -- the #8 Chance 2 Motorsports effort of driver Martin Truex -- which sits atop the latest points standings. Gibson, too, knows what it takes to win championships, having contributed to NASCAR Cup Series title-winning efforts by Alan Kulwicki and Jeff Gordon.

"Well, as you might expect, I'm thrilled to get back to the business of racing after all the behind-the-scenes work that went into moving to our new team," Menard said. "It's one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to be part of an organization like Dale Earnhardt, Inc. The team is one of the best racing organizations in the world, built from the ground up by Dale Earnhardt's right foot. There is tradition building here. There is already a lot of history here. I'm just hoping to help contribute to the winning tradition.

"We tested at New Hampshire a couple of weeks ago and I'll have to say it went pretty well. So I'm excited to get a fresh start. We'll have a fresh, new look. Even a new number. My Menards Chevrolet looks hot! We lost a lot of ground in the Rookie of the Year race, taking the last five races off. But hopefully we'll be able to start making that up this weekend. One of my first priorities, of course, will be to help Martin (Truex) win the championship."

Practice for the Siemens 200 begins Friday morning with qualifying set for 1:30 p.m. EDT Friday and live coverage on SPEED-TV. Race time Saturday is 1 p.m. EDT with live coverage by the TNT cable network.

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Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Martin Truex Jr. , Paul Menard , Alan Kulwicki