Menard Slides His Way to a 12th-Place Finish at Pikes Peak Salute to the Troops 250 NASCAR Busch Series Race FOUNTAIN, Colo. (Saturday, July 23, 2005) -- Paul Menard and the ...
Menard Slides His Way to a 12th-Place Finish at Pikes Peak Salute to the Troops 250 NASCAR Busch Series Race
FOUNTAIN, Colo. (Saturday, July 23, 2005) -- Paul Menard and the #11 Menards/Johns Manville Chevrolet team from Dale Earnhardt, Inc., battled tire problems in the closing stretch but hung on for a 12th-place finish in today's Salute to the Troops 250 NASCAR Busch Series race at Pikes Peak International Raceway.
Menard, who scored five consecutive top-10 finishes coming into this weekend, rolled a brand new race car off the truck yesterday morning and promptly qualified it solidly on the second row -- his seventh top-five qualifying effort of the season. The 24-year-old from Eau Claire, Wis., jumped ahead of Nextel Cup veteran Bill Elliott to snatch the third position on the very first lap of today's race, and stayed in the top three before pitting for the first time under the race's first caution on Lap 26. He resumed in fourth, but fought a slight tight condition in the center of the corners and a loose condition off during that run and fell back to sixth by the time he pitted a second time under caution on Lap 95.
Back in the top five on Lap 102, shortly after the race went back to green, Menard's car was slightly better that following run, which lasted until his third pit stop of the day under caution on Lap 158. Restarting in 11th on Lap 164, Menard got back into 10th when he stopped for a fourth and final time under yellow on Lap 190, resuming in 14th. He netted two spots -- for 12th -- by the time the checkered flag flew on Lap 250, fighting what turned out to be an uncooperative set of tires during that final run to the end.
The finish lifted Menard two spots in the drivers standings -- from 12th to 10th -- heading into next week's Busch series event at Gateway International Raceway just across the river from St. Louis in Madison, Ill.
"You know it's a sign of the times when you finish 12th and feel underwhelmed. A month and a half ago, we would have been pretty happy with a 12th-place finish. That last set of tires really didn't do us any favors today. We had a shot at our sixth top 10 in a row but just couldn't fight our way back at the end. The engine got a little too hot, too, so we didn't have what we needed to work our way back into the top 10. The good news of the weekend is we're in the top 10 in the points race for the first time this season. Hopefully we'll just keep taking positive steps from now till season's end."