MADISON, Ill. (Saturday, May 8, 2004) - Paul Menard and the ...
MADISON, Ill. (Saturday, May 8, 2004) - Paul Menard and the #33 Menards/Energizer Chevrolet of Andy Petree Racing overcame a first-lap accident and fought back for a 22nd-place finish in tonight's Charter 250 NASCAR Busch Series race at Gateway International Raceway.
Menard had a clean start from his 29th starting position as the race went green, picking up positions until he was passing the car of Clint Bowyer on the inside on Lap 1 around this 1.25-mile egg-shaped oval just across the Mississippi River from downtown St. Louis. Billy Parker reportedly worked his way inside Menard and Bowyer and the three cars tangled, sending Parker out of the race and Menard and Bowyer to the pit lane to repair damaged bodywork on their respective cars.
Menard lost a lap during a series of stops to repair his Menards/Energizer Chevrolet under yellow, and dropped back to the 42nd position, but he and the APR team helped him worked his way back onto the lead lap and into 27th place by Lap 72 of tonight's 200-lap, 250-mile race. Menard and the team were able to take strategic advantage of six caution periods over the first 101 laps to work their way back toward the front. From Lap 102 onward, the race stayed green, and Menard was able to battle his way to a 22nd-place finish.
Martin Truex, Jr., was tonight's winner, his third win of the season and second in the last three events. Ron Hornaday, Jr., was second and Jason Keller finished third.
Next stop on the 2004 NASCAR Busch Series tour is the Funai 250 on the Richmond International Raceway three-quarter-mile oval.
"I really have no idea who hit me on the first lap. I was passing (Clint) Bowyer and then there was contact. Fortunately, we were able to keep on going, although it set us back a good bit and forced us to play catch-up. The Menards/Energizer team did a great job of getting me back onto the lead lap, and I was hoping then that we would really make a run for it. For some reason, my middle set of tires didn't allow that to happen and we ended up going backwards. So we hung on until we finally had to pit for our final set and the car was really good on the long run to the finish. It was an eventful first half of the race, to say the least. There was certainly a lot going on, and we were able to make some breaks for ourselves. Unfortunately, we weren't in a position to go racing with the leaders at the end. Oh well, it's on to Richmond. I'm looking forward to it."