BUSCH: Pikes Peak: Paul Menard preview

After a Promising Run in Their Busch Debut at New Hampshire, Menard and the ...

After a Promising Run in Their Busch Debut at New Hampshire, Menard and the #11 DEI Team Ride Wave of Momentum to Pikes Peak

FOUNTAIN, Colo. (July 27, 2004) -- With the first race of Paul Menard's new life on the NASCAR Busch Series circuit behind him, the 23-year-old Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender from Eau Claire, Wis., comes to a track he knows all too well for this weekend's Goulds Pumps/ITT Industries Salute to the Troops 250 at Pikes Peak International Raceway.

Even though he's spent the last Saturday in July at PPIR each of the last four years, perhaps never has Menard felt better about traveling to this racey mile oval at the foot of the Rocky Mountains just south of Colorado Springs.

He and his brand new #11 Menards/Johns Manville Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., are coming off an encouraging debut together last weekend at Loudon, N.H., where Menard qualified 11th, ran in the top 10 most of the day, and was working his way to the front for a potential top-five finish before getting caught up in some late-race contact on a restart 18 laps from the finish.

Menard was running eighth at the time of the accident, which bent the fender of the #11 racing machine into his right-front tire and sent him into the pits to pull the sheet metal away. Menard rejoined the race in 24th and went right back to work, passing six cars before the checkered flag and salvaging an 18th-place finish. He and his new teammates, led by veteran crew chief Tony Gibson, left New Hampshire feeling good about things, nonetheless.

"I'm excited to be going to a track where I've had some success in the past," said Menard, who scored NASCAR Midwest Tour finishes of sixth in 2000 and fifth in 2002 here at Pikes Peak. He also was 13th in the 2001 Midwest Tour race here, and ran an Andy Petree Racing Menards Chevrolet in the Busch race here last year, qualifying 21st and finishing 23rd.

"It's definitely good to have that Busch race here last year under my belt. I came here with the team a couple of weeks ago when Martin (Truex) tested and actually learned a lot from that, too. PPIR is one of my favorite tracks as it is small, fast, and multi-grooved. We have a little momentum to build on after a solid run up at New Hampshire. I know Tony (Gibson) and the boys are fired up for this one!"

Practice for this weekend's 250-lap main event begins at 12:45 p.m. local time (2:45 p.m. EDT) on Friday, followed by qualifying at 4:05 p.m. local time (6:05 p.m. EDT). SPEED-TV will carry the qualifying session live beginning at 6 p.m. EDT. Saturday's race begins at 3:30 p.m. local time (5:30 p.m. EDT) with live coverage on the TNT cable network.


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Drivers Andy Petree , Paul Menard