Menard's #11 DEI Entry Qualifies 11th at New Hampshire For Saturday's Siemens 200 NASCAR Busch Series Race
LOUDON, N.H. (Friday, July 23, 2004) -- Rookie Paul Menard resumed his NASCAR Busch Series season today with a brand new team and promptly put the #11 Menards/Pittsburgh Paints Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., 11th on the starting grid for Saturday's Siemens 200 at New Hampshire International Speedway.
The 23-year-old Menard circled the mile oval at NHIS with a fast qualifying lap of 128.732 mph (29.587 seconds) to take the inside-sixth-row starting spot for tomorrow's 200-lap race. It was Menard's second-best qualifying effort in 15 Busch races this season. The Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender started the season in the #33 Menards Chevrolet of Andy Petree Racing, with which he recorded a best qualifying effort of eighth at Talladega in April. He missed the last five races while transitioning the Menards NASCAR racing program to DEI.
Jamie McMurray grabbed the pole today with a lap of 130.006 mph (29.297 seconds), the only lap better than 130 mph among 48 cars that attempted to qualify for tomorrow's 43 starting spots. Ron Hornaday will start second after a fast lap of 129.428 mph (29.428 seconds).
Race time Saturday is 1 p.m. EDT with a live broadcast set for the TNT cable network.
"Eleventh on the starting grid for the 11 car -- that has a nice ring to it. Obviously, we'd like to be first, but all things considered, it's a solid effort by everyone involved to put us solidly in the show on our very first day on the job. Hats off to (crew chief) Tony Gibson for putting together such a terrific team. I think we're pretty pleased with where we're starting. For a new team, there is already a lot of good chemistry going on here. We came here and tested a few weeks ago and learned a lot about what we can do with our race setups. We burned through a few pages of race setups this morning and we made some good progress toward making the Menards/PPG car good for tomorrow. I like this track a lot. It's pretty straightforward -- kind of a like an IRP (Indianapolis Raceway Park) with longer straightaways. It'll be tough to pass, but the guys have really been working hard on their pit work and if I can't do it on the track, I'm sure they can do it for us in the pits."