BUSCH: Phoenix: Paul Menard preview

NOTES OF INTEREST ON THE CAR Nextel Cup Primary Car: Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chassis ...


Nextel Cup Primary Car:
Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chassis #19 / Back up Car #12

Last Raced:

This is a brand new Car of Tomorrow, built at DEI during the off season and tested at Richmond International Raceway during the series test in March.

Fun Fact:

Paul Menard's Crew Chief (Tony Eury Sr.) and Car Chief ("B" Hoover) both consider car #19 the "best short track car they've got in the stable" and these are two racers who know what it takes to run well at Phoenix. Both were on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Phoenix race winning team in 2003 and 2004. Earnhardt Jr. won the only two Cup races held at PIR in '03 and '04.


Menard will make his third Car of Tomorrow attempt of the season, hoping to build on the momentum from Sunday's 15th place run at Texas Motor Speedway and work his way up into the top-35 in Nextel Cup owner's standings.

Testing, Testing, One, Two, Three

Menard tested chassis #19 at the Richmond test last month. At the test, Menard and his Dale Earnhardt Inc. crew came a long way in improving their COT program and have high expectations for how the No. 15 car will perform in race trim. While running a fast lap during Thursday's qualifying is at the top of the team's To Do list, Menard knows that once he makes the show, his potential for race day success is imminent.

Wisconsinites Strong at Phoenix

The first Cup race at Phoenix was won by Wisconsin native Alan Kulwicki. Kulwicki has five starts at the track, with four three top fives and four top-10's. Another notable Wisconsin racer, Dick Trickle, finished 7th in his Raybestos Rookie appearance at the track in 1989.

Keep on Trucking

Menards Racing hauler driver, Todd Cable, swapped cars in Texas so he could continue on to Phoenix without returning to North Carolina. Cable agrees that this is the best way to make the Texas, Phoenix loop. "The advantage is that I don't have to go back to North Carolina, swap out, load everything up, get ready for Phoenix and turn around and come right back through here [Texas] a day later." Cable said. "I'd be home Monday afternoon and would have to leave Tuesday morning to come back. That's the biggest advantage of it is just time-wise."

Working Towards Top-35

The No. 15 team sits 41st in Nextel Cup Owner's Standings, only 105 points outside of the top-35. The standings reset weekly, meaning a guaranteed spot in the field could come as soon as Talladega for Menards Racing.

Raybestos Rookie of the Year Notes

Menard stands third in overall Raybestos rookie ratings. He has 43 points, 38 points behind Juan Pablo Montoya who leads the standings with 81 points.


Paul Menard Quote on the Subway Fresh Fit 500: "We definitely have some momentum built up from Texas. Hopefully we can keep that going by having a solid COT race this weekend. We had a really good test in Richmond so I'm looking forward to seeing what that does for our Phoenix program. We hit on a few things that I think should really help us see a difference in both our qualifying and race runs."

Nextel Cup Car Chief "B" Hoover on the Subway Fresh Fit 500: "Our race runs with the COT are going to be good. No doubt about it. The qualifying is still a concern because there is absolutely no room for error. There's seven teams going home (from Phoenix) and it's going to be seven good teams because we all just keep working to get better and better. It definitely helps to have a top-15 in our pockets from Texas. There were a lot of smiles around the shop on Monday and I hope we can keep those smiles in place come Thursday during qualifying."

-credit: dei/mr

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Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya