BUSCH: Rockingham: Paul Menard preview

Paul Menard NASCAR Busch Series -- ...

Paul Menard
NASCAR Busch Series -- #33 Menards Chevrolet
Team -- Andy Petree Racing, Flat Rock, N.C.
Sponsors -- Pittsburgh Paints, Energizer, Peak, Turtle Wax, Moen, Morton Salt, Empire Levels

Menard Ready To Take On the Tough, Short Track at Rockingham

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Feb. 18, 2004) -- Paul Menard and his #33 Menards Chevrolet team from Andy Petree Racing head to the North Carolina Speedway mile oval for this weekend's Goody's Headache Powder 200, the second NASCAR Busch Series stop of the 2004 season.

After last weekend's rain-delayed Hershey's Kisses 300 on the superspeedway at Daytona, where Menard recovered from a multi-car accident on Lap 11 to finish 32nd, the 23-year-old Eau Claire, Wis., native is ready to take on the challenges of one of the most demanding handling tracks on the NASCAR circuit.

Despite his Daytona disappointment, which came after a solid qualifying effort of 12th -- tops among Raybestos Rookies in the 43-car field -- Menard is thankful for the chance to get right back to the business of racing the very next weekend. A season ago, Menard engaged in a part-time schedule of some 15 events representing a mixed bag of NASCAR Nextel Cup, Busch Series, Craftsman Truck and ARCA races. It was much-needed experience in preparation for this year's full-time assault on the NASCAR Busch Series with an eye on the Raybestos Rookie of the Year title. But the mix of series and seemingly untimely breaks in-between races made it oftentimes difficult to get into any kind of a racing groove.

Not so this year with that year of experience under his belt and the full 34-race Busch Series filling his 2004 calendar. Last weekend's restrictor-plate racing experience behind him, Menard is looking forward to the short track here at Rockingham.

"I'm really looking forward to getting back out there at Rockingham. Even though I've never been there, it's a track that I would call really 'racey' because there seem to be about 10 different grooves and a good bit of banking," said Menard, whose recent short-track successes include last season's ninth-place finish in the Busch Series event at Indianapolis and a 2002 season-ending victory in a NASCAR Southwest Tour Series race at Phoenix, where he passed veteran Kenny Schrader on the last lap.

"Daytona turned out to be a real disappointment for us, but a good result at Rockingham could definitely go a long way toward erasing that for all of us. We almost made it through the big wreck at the beginning of the race at Daytona, but I guess it wasn't meant to be. The rain delay made it a three-day ordeal, which really compounds the disappointment for everybody. But the guys did a great job of getting me back out on the track in a timely way and we picked up 11 positions (from 43rd to 32nd) once we got back out there. We're a positive group, and we're just looking forward to getting back out there and getting it right, beginning at Rockingham. There's a rookie championship to be won out there and we've got 33 races to get it done."

Practice and qualifying for the Goody's Headache Powder 200 are set for Friday (Feb. 20). Race time Saturday (Feb. 21) is 1 p.m. EST with a live broadcast slated for the FX cable network beginning at 12:30 p.m. EST. SPEED TV will carry qualifying live at 1:30 p.m. EST Friday.

-apr-

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Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Andy Petree , Paul Menard