BUSCH: Richmond II: Paul Menard preview

Menard, ...

Menard, #11 Splash DEI Chevrolet Return to Richmond For Friday Night's Emerson Radio 250 NASCAR Busch Series Race

RICHMOND, Va. (Sept. 7, 2005) -- Seems like an eternity ago that Paul Menard led 38 laps and looked like one of the drivers to beat on the Richmond International Raceway three-quarter-mile tri-oval last May. But that fateful night is quite clear in Menard's mind as he brings his familiar yellow #11 Menards/Splash Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., back to RIR for Friday night's Emerson Radio 250 NASCAR Busch Series race.

Menard's potential top-five finish that evening back in May came to a bittersweet end after a late-race skirmish with another competitor. But in the 15 races since, the 25-year-old from Eau Claire, Wis., has been on something of a tear, grabbing 10 top-10 finishes -- including third place at Milwaukee and top-fives at Kentucky and Gateway -- and a top-12 at Pikes Peak to thrust him well into the top-10 in the Busch series drivers standings.

This week, Menard hopes to pick up where he left off at RIR, when he held the rest of the field at bay for those 38 laps during a stellar mid-race run.

"That was some of the most fun I've ever had," said Menard, coming off a 10th-place finish on the 2-mile tri-oval at California Speedway last Saturday night. "Richmond is definitely one of my favorite places to race, and when the Menards Chevrolet is working well, like it did during that mid-race stretch the last time we were there, there's no better feeling. We'll hope we can pick up where we left off last May -- before the crazy turn of events that took us out of contention, of course."

A broken upper control arm at Bristol sent Menard into the outside retaining wall and out of the race two weeks ago in another of the season's Friday-night spectaculars. It was the only blemish on a recent string of finishes that has catapulted Menard firmly into eighth place in the points race heading into Friday night's 250-lap, 187-mile extravaganza under the lights at RIR.

The Emerson Radio 250 is a one-day show Friday with practice set for 9:30 a.m. EDT, qualifying at 4:35 p.m. EDT, and race time at 7:50 p.m. EDT. SPEED-TV's live qualifying coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. EDT. The TNT cable network's live race coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. EDT.


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Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Paul Menard