Paul Menard 33 Menards Chevrolet Team -- Andy Petree Racing, Flat Rock, N.C. Sponsors -- Pittsburgh Paints, Energizer, Peak, Turtle Wax, Moen, Morton Salt, Empire Levels Rookie Menard No Stranger To Gateway Raceway, Scene of Saturday's NASCAR...
33 Menards Chevrolet
Team -- Andy Petree Racing, Flat Rock, N.C.
Sponsors -- Pittsburgh Paints, Energizer, Peak, Turtle Wax, Moen, Morton Salt, Empire Levels
Rookie Menard No Stranger To Gateway Raceway, Scene of Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series Charter 250
MADISON, Ill. (May 4, 2004) -- Last summer, a young Paul Menard was working a "part-time job" that brought him to Gateway Raceway for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race. The then-22-year-old driver from Eau Claire, Wis., left with a modest 21st-place finish on the mile-and-a-quarter egg-shaped oval after qualifying 25th.
This year, Menard is a full-fledged Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender on the NASCAR Busch Series and is looking for bigger and better things when he comes to town for Saturday's Charter 250.
Having raced an "A-B-C" series schedule (A for ARCA, B for Busch and C for Craftsman Truck and Nextel Cup) of some 15 events in 2003, Menard certainly got his feet wet contesting major events in a healthy variety of racing machines on a vast array of racetracks under the guidance of longtime NASCAR veteran crew chief and team owner Andy Petree.
This weekend, Menard will be behind the wheel of the #33 Menards/Energizer Chevrolet of Andy Petree Racing after a solid start to his official rookie Busch season. Last weekend, at California Speedway, Menard battled an ill-handling car and had to pit for a late-race splash of fuel enroute to a 28th-place finish. Two weekends ago, he achieved his best Busch qualifying effort yet, putting his race car eighth on the grid on the Talladega Superspeedway tri-oval and looked like a contender for his first race win until getting caught up in the seemingly inevitable "big wreck" late in that race. Nonetheless, he was able to limp home 16th for the second race in a row and appeared just a heartbeat away from scoring his first top-10 finish of the season.
"I sure hope that comes at Gateway," said Menard, who was fourth here in 2001 and sixth in 2002 in NASCAR Re/Max Series competition. "I like the track. It'd be great to finally show what we're truly capable of doing there. We've been competitive with the veteran Busch drivers and Nextel Cup regulars we race against week in and week out. But this series is so competitive up and down the grid, it seems it takes an absolutely perfect weekend on the track to win. And if you've been in racing long enough, you know that's incredible tough to do when 42 other competitors are out there fighting for the same thing. I definitely think we're up to the task, and we'll have our day. Hopefully it's be Saturday."
Practice, qualifying and the Charter 250 all take place Saturday at Gateway. SPEED-TV will broadcast qualifying live at 4 p.m. EDT. Race time is 7 p.m. local time (8 p.m. EDT) with a live broadcast set for the FX cable network.