Fresh Off Another Third Place at Charlotte, Menard Hits Memphis Looking for First Career NASCAR Busch Series Victory MILLINGTON, Tenn. (Oct. 18, 2005) -- Paul Menard and the ...
Fresh Off Another Third Place at Charlotte, Menard Hits Memphis Looking for First Career NASCAR Busch Series Victory
MILLINGTON, Tenn. (Oct. 18, 2005) -- Paul Menard and the #11 Menards/Moen Faucets Chevrolet team of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., come to Memphis Motorsports Park for Saturday's Sam's Town 250 hoping for their best NASCAR Busch Series finish of the 2005 season -- just like they got here a year ago this weekend. Only this year, a season's best would put them right smack in the middle of Victory Lane, which would be a career first for Menard and his teammates of the past season-and-a-half.
Menard & Company are riding a tidal wave of momentum coming to Memphis after last weekend's third-place finish at Charlotte -- their third top-three of the season during a remarkable second-half run that has seen them streak to 14 top-12 finishes in a 16-race stretch that began in mid-June at Kentucky.
"To say we've fallen into a groove is quite the understatement," said the 25-year-old Menard, who will be out to get his first career Busch series win in his 65th career Busch series start here Saturday. "We've been clicking on all cylinders since Kentucky, which is the trademark of a championship-contending team. We've come a long way since the beginning of the season, maybe not so much in terms of the capabilities of everyone in this organization, but from the quality of our results week in and week out. That means that a lot of hard work that went into getting us to where we are continues to pay off."
Since that night at Kentucky last June, where Menard's fifth-place finish was his first top-10 with the team he joined midway through the 2004 season, he's scored more points (2,027) in the Busch series standings than all other drivers except defending-champion and current points leader Martin Truex, Jr. (2,231), and the man who's been putting the championship heat on Truex the latter of the season, Clint Bowyer (2,182).
That's some pretty stout company for a team that formed up less than a season-and-a-half ago, and it sets the stage for a promising final four events of the season, as well as another full Busch series run in 2006 with eyes firmly set on the drivers championship.
"I'm really looking forward to Memphis," said Menard, whose 11th-place finish here last year came during his first career visit to the three-quarter-mile tri-oval. "We've gotten pretty solid results on every kind of track, but short tracks have been particularly good to us, I think. We started out with some handling issues last year that kept us from finishing higher in the order. With that under our belts, I think we can get a really good result this weekend."
Practice for Saturday's 250-lap race begins at 2 p.m. local time (3 p.m. EDT) Friday. Qualifying is set for Saturday at 10:30 a.m. local time (11:30 a.m. EDT) with SPEED-TV's live coverage picking up the session in progress beginning at noon EDT. Race time is 2:30 p.m. local time (3:30 p.m. EDT) with the TNT cable network providing the live broadcast.