Menard Has Top-Five Car Almost to the End at Richmond; Has To Settle for 13th in NASCAR Busch Series Emerson 25 RICHMOND, Va. (Friday, Sept. 10, 2004) -- Paul Menard of Eau Claire, Wis., had his first NASCAR Busch Series top-five finish foiled...
Menard Has Top-Five Car Almost to the End at Richmond; Has To Settle for 13th in NASCAR Busch Series Emerson 25
RICHMOND, Va. (Friday, Sept. 10, 2004) -- Paul Menard of Eau Claire, Wis., had his first NASCAR Busch Series top-five finish foiled on a restart just 16 laps from the end of tonight's Emerson 250 at Richmond International Raceway and had to settle for 13th.
Menard and the #11 Menards/Energizer Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., was working toward the front as tonight's 250-lap event around the three-quarter-mile oval here was wearing on. He moved into fifth with a pass of NASCAR Nextel Cup regular Kevin Harvick on Lap 197, just 10 laps after getting by Nextel Cup veteran Mark Martin for sixth. The 24-year-old Menard held off later challenges from Harvick and the No. 2 man in the series points standings, Kyle Busch, for the next 37 laps, including the next-to-last restart of the race on Lap 214.
But on the final restart of the race, on Lap 234, Busch dove under Menard heading into Turn 1, at one point drifting toward the outside wall as they were side-by-side. That forced Menard up into the marbles, enabling Busch and six other cars to get by as Menard recovered. Martin got by Menard just six laps from the checkered flag and dropped him to his final finishing position of 13th. It equals Menard's best finish of his Busch Series Raybestos Rookie season, which he first recorded at Nazareth in May.
Robby Gordon got by Casey Atwood on that same fateful Lap-234 restart to score the victory tonight. Series points leader Martin Truex, Jr., was third.
The series takes next weekend off before returning Sept. 25 on the mile oval at Dover, Del.
"Well, the Menards/Energizer crew did an excellent job giving me a top-five car. You can't ask for more than that as a driver on any given day, or night. It's a shame that we got run up the track on that last restart because we didn't get the finish we deserved. I got forced up into the bad stuff and got freight-trained. We definitely had a top-five car, but it didn't work out that way. Even though we didn't get the finish we looked like we were going to, it's encouraging to leave here feeling like everyone did their job and got us maybe the best race car we've had all year. We'll be back."