Menard Hopes To Solidfy His Top-10 Position in the Standings At Saturday Night's NASCAR Busch Series 250-Miler at Gateway MADISON, Ill. (July 26, 2005) -- The Brothers Wallace might be the local favorites at Saturday night's Wallace Family ...
Menard Hopes To Solidfy His Top-10 Position in the Standings At Saturday Night's NASCAR Busch Series 250-Miler at Gateway
MADISON, Ill. (July 26, 2005) -- The Brothers Wallace might be the local favorites at Saturday night's Wallace Family Tribute 250 NASCAR Busch Series race at Gateway International Raceway, but Paul Menard and his #11 Menards/Peak Antifreeze Chevrolet teammates from Dale Earnhardt, Inc., will do their best to steal the show when they take to the unique, mile-and-a-quarter egg-shaped oval.
With all due respects to brothers Rusty, Kenny and Mike, who hail from just across the Mississippi River from here on the outskirts of St. Louis, Menard and the #11 DEI team have some business to take care of themselves after methodically piecing together a string of six top-12 finishes that have catapulted the 24-year-old driver from Eau Claire, Wis., into the top 10 in the latest Busch series driver standings.
It'll be the second Busch series start at Gateway for Menard, who also had a promising run in the NASCAR Truck Series race here in 2003, and a pole and fifth-place finish among three NASCAR Midwest Series starts here from 2001-2003. But his first shot at this quirky track in the bright yellow #11 Menards/Peak Chevrolet has Menard and his teammates feeling hopeful.
"I like this track a lot, and I definitely know it well," said Menard, who finished 12th at Pikes Peak last weekend after qualifying in the top five for the seventh time this season. "It forces you to make compromises with your setup because both ends of the track are completely different, but if you hit it right, you can have a lot of fun out there. So far this year, especially during our recent stretch, (crew chief) Dan Stillman and the boys at DEI have really been prepared just about everywhere we've gone. Gateway might be a little more challenging to set the car up for than a lot of tracks, but I know we'll be up to the task."
In the 2004 Busch race here, Menard drove the #33 Andy Petree Racing Chevrolet and found himself scrambling back from a first-lap accident for a 22nd-place finish. In the 2003 Truck series race here, Menard appeared to be headed for a top-10 finish before being wrecked by a lapped competitor. His Midwest series pole came in 2002, and his fifth-place finish came in 2003.
"More of the same is all we're working for again this weekend," Menard said. "We had five straight top-10s and then a 12th last week that got me into the top 10. That's what hard work and perserverence will get for you. We'll just keep our heads down and keep on digging."
Practice for Saturday night's 250-mile race begins at 6:30 p.m. local time (7:30 p.m. EDT) Friday with final practice set for 9:45 a.m. local time (10:45 a.m. EDT) Saturday. Qualifying, to be broadcast live by SPEED-TV, is set for 3 p.m. local time (4 p.m. EDT) Saturday, followed by the race at 7 p.m. local time (8 p.m. EDT) with live coverage by the TNT cable network.