Menard Brings Johns Manville DEI Chevrolet Home 12th at Pikes Peak For His Best NASCAR Busch Series Finish of the Season FOUNTAIN, Colo. (Saturday, July 31, 2004) -- NASCAR Busch Series rookie Paul Menard brought the ...
Menard Brings Johns Manville DEI Chevrolet Home 12th at Pikes Peak For His Best NASCAR Busch Series Finish of the Season
FOUNTAIN, Colo. (Saturday, July 31, 2004) -- NASCAR Busch Series rookie Paul Menard brought the #11 Menards/Johns Manville Chevrolet home in 12th place at today's Goulds Pumps/ITT Industries Salute to the Troops 250 at Pikes Peak International Raceway, scoring his best finish of the season in only his second race with his new Dale Earnhardt, Inc., teammates.
Menard started on the outside of the 12th row and, despite fighting various handling difficulties, was able to pick off position after position from the time the green flag flew to start today's 250-lap race around this mile tri-oval south of Colorado Springs. Menard was up to 19th when the race first went yellow on Lap 33, made extensive adjustments that cost him two positions, and he was 22nd before pitting a second time under caution on Lap 78. His next run was his most productive of the day as he worked his way all the way up to 13th by the time the caution flag flew once again on Lap 139.
Despite having taken on his third and NASCAR-mandated final set of tires under that third caution-period stop (rules stipulate that any further tire changes must be made during green-flag stops), Menard drove a strong and steady pace for the final 103 laps after the race went back to green on Lap147 and recorded his best finish since coming home 13th at Nazareth Speedway in May with the team he started the season with -- Andy Petree Racing. Menard joined the DEI team for the first time last weekend at New Hampshire, where he qualified 11th and finished 18th despite running in the top 10 for most of that race.
NASCAR Next Cup Series regular Greg Biffle used an alternate tire strategy to power his way to victory today, beating runner-up Stacy Compton and third-place-finishing Jason Leffler across the finish line.
Menard's best career NASCAR Busch Series finish was ninth last year at Indianapolis Raceway Park, where the series returns for next Saturday night's Kroger 200.
"I'll have to say it was a very workmanlike performance for the #11 Menards/Johns Manville DEI team. I feel a little disappointed to be so close to a top-10 finish and not having gotten it, because I feel we earned it. But if you would have told me yesterday that we were going to finish 12th -- after we struggled a bit to qualify 24th -- I guess I would have alright with that. We were banking on the conditions to be really hot and sunny at the start of the race, but 10 minutes before we started, the clouds came in and changed everything for the whole first part of the race. We made some significant adjustments that made the car better for our second run, and then again for our third run. The good news was that the car was finally the best it had been all day. The bad news was that we used up our allotment of caution-period tire changes with more than 100 laps to go. So it was inevitable that we were in for some tough times as we got closer to the end of the race. But that was the same for most everybody, except the guy who won the race. The biggest positive is that we're working better and better together, and I can only imagine it's going to get even better as we go along."