Menard Recovers From Mid-Race Spin at Gateway Wallace Family 250, Battles Back for Yet Another Top-Five NASCAR Busch Series Finish MADISON, Ill. (Saturday, July 30, 2005) -- Paul Menard of Eau Claire, Wis., battled back from a mid-race spin and...
Menard Recovers From Mid-Race Spin at Gateway Wallace Family 250, Battles Back for Yet Another Top-Five NASCAR Busch Series Finish
MADISON, Ill. (Saturday, July 30, 2005) -- Paul Menard of Eau Claire, Wis., battled back from a mid-race spin and raced his way all the way to a fifth-place finish in tonight's Wallace Family 250 NASCAR Busch Series race at Gateway International Raceway.
It was the third top-five finish of the season for Menard, and his sixth top-10 in his last seven Busch series starts -- the lone holdout being last week's 12th-place run at Pikes Peak. He's had an average finish of 6.7 in those last seven races, and vaulted him solidly into the top 10 in the Busch series drivers standings.
Earlier today, Menard and the #11 Menards/Peak Antifreeze Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., qualified eighth for tonight's 200-lap run around the 1.25-mile egg-shaped oval here, and he found himself in the top three just two laps into the event. He settled into the third position for the next 31 laps, until he pitted under yellow for tires and fuel and adjustments to help remedy a slightly tight race car in Turn Two. He restarted in 10th place when the race returned to green on Lap 36, but the changes turned out to make his bright yellow racing machine loose entering and exiting Turn Four. Still, Menard was able to work his way up to as high as seventh place during the ensuing run. He pitted a second time on Lap 63 and made adjustments that seemed to give the car the balance he was looking for.
Again, Menard worked his way toward the front, running in eighth position when he and the car of Kenny Wallace touched on the backstretch, sending Menard spinning toward the infield grass. The car made no other contact during the spin, and he got away with minimal right-front fender damage that the DEI crew was able to fix during his third stop of the night under yellow on Lap 93.
He resumed in 30th position when the race returned to green on Lap 95, and from there Menard yet again found himself picking off car after car under the green-flag laps after that point. He was up to 22nd on a Lap-104 restart, inside the top 20 by Lap 106, and was knocking on the door of the top 10 when another caution period came out on Lap 135. His final stop of the night came under that caution on Lap 138, and he resumed in 11th place on Lap 144.
Menard was back in the top 10 by Lap 147 with a pass of David Green, and he was fifth when the final caution period of the night came out on Lap 191. He held onto the top-five position over the final three green laps that began on Lap 197.
The current streak of top finishes begin with a fifth place at Kentucky, followed a week later by a third-place run at Milwaukee, a sixth place at Daytona, ninth at Chicago, seventh at New Hampshire, and last week's 12th-place run in Colorado.
Next up for Menard and his fellow Busch series competitors is next Saturday night at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
PAUL MENARD "That was an amazing job of digging and digging and getting something really good out of it. I've really got to hand it to (crew chief) Dan Stillman and all the guys for getting me in and out of the pits really well tonight. When I went spinning on the backstretch, I was thinking 'this is gonna hurt,' but it turned out we didn't hit the wall or anything else. So we got out of it pretty much unharmed. From there, we just put our heads down and stuck with it. The Menards/Peak Chevrolet was pretty awesome. This is the one we finished third with at Milwaukee so it's proven itself time and again. We took some pressure out of the right front (tire) on our first stop and that turned out to hurt the car. Fortunately, we didn't lose much because of it on the racetrack. The spin set us back, but it didn't hurt the car, either. Good things are happening. This is really great. Everybody who's worked so long and hard for this deserves every bit of what's happening right now. We just need to pack it up and take it back to Menards territory next week in Indy. It's one of the raciest tracks around, so I'm really looking forward to it."