BUSCH: Memphis: Paul Menard preview

Sam's Town 250 at Memphis Brings Another Short-Track Test For Busch Series Rookie Menard and the ...

Sam's Town 250 at Memphis Brings Another Short-Track Test For Busch Series Rookie Menard and the #11 DEI Chevrolet Team

MILLINGTON, Tenn. (Oct. 20, 2004) -- It's short-track time again as Paul Menard and the #11 Menards/Quaker State Chevrolet team from Dale Earnhardt, Inc., take center stage on the three-quarter-mile tri-oval at Me mphis Motorsports Park for Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series Sam's Town 250.

It will be the first career start at the Memphis track for the 24-year-old Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender from Eau Claire, Wis., but he's certainly no stranger to success on the short circuits. Menard and the #11 Menards Chevrolet came just a handful of laps shy of his first career top-five Busch series finish on the three-quarter-mile tri-oval at Richmond last month. Considering Menard cut his racing teeth on the NASCAR Midwest Series and NASCAR Southwest Tour in recent years, short tracks like Memphis put him in a comfort zone as he nears the completion of his first full-time Busch series season.

"We tested at Memphis a few weeks ago and I think we found some things that will be to our benefit this weekend," Menard said. "I've never raced there, so I'm definitely looking to get down to business on Friday because I'll have to say I enjoyed our test session there a lot. It's another one of those driver's tracks, like Richmond and Bristol. There's quite a lot of history there, and I'm hoping we can make some history of our own before all is said and done."

Two weeks ago, Menard and the #11 DEI team did make some history of their own, scoring their first-ever Busch series pole qualifying effort at Kansas Speedway in only their ninth race weekend together since joining forces at New Hampshire in July. Menard had started the season and ran the first 14 events driving an Andy Petree Racing entry. In all, he has five top-15 finishes this season with a best effort of 12th on the mile oval at Pikes Peak the final weekend of July.

"It's been a fast-paced learning experience, but this team is one of the best in the business, and I know we're making progress every single weekend," Menard said. "It's been a bit of a roller coaster ride, which is typical of any new effort, but I definitely feel our best days are yet to come. Hopefully, Memphis will be another breakthrough event for us."

Practice for Saturday's 250-lap race begins at noon local time (1 p.m. EDT) Friday, followed by qualifying at 3:30 p.m. local time (4:30 p.m. EDT) and a live broadcast set for SPEED-TV. Race time Saturday is 2:30 p.m. local time (3:30 p.m. EDT) with live coverage provided by the TNT cable network.


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Drivers Andy Petree , Paul Menard