Memories of Daytona and His ARCA Series Victory at Talladega Have Menard and His DEI Teammates Looking Forward to Aaron's 312 TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 26, 2005) -- Paul Menard knows his way to Victory Lane at Talladega Superspeedway, and the ...
Memories of Daytona and His ARCA Series Victory at Talladega Have Menard and His DEI Teammates Looking Forward to Aaron's 312
TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 26, 2005) -- Paul Menard knows his way to Victory Lane at Talladega Superspeedway, and the 24-year-old from Eau Claire, Wis., would like nothing more than to get back there at this weekend's NASCAR Busch Series Aaron's 312.
Behind the wheel of his #11 Menards/Turtle Wax Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., with the lessons learned from a dominating run during the opening laps of this season's Busch series opener at Daytona, Menard knows he has everything he needs to replicate his thrilling drive to victory here at Talladega in the ARCA race two Octobers ago.
Menard qualified on the second row and led 37 of the opening 51 laps on the Daytona tri-oval last February and had what appeared to be the fastest race car on the track that day. Had he been successful in his numerous attempts to lure a drafting partner or two, he just might have been the one spraying the victory champagne.
"That's the way it goes on these restrictor-plate tracks," said Menard, whose ARCA victory here came in an Andy Petree Racing entry that qualified on the pole but had to start at the back of the pack after a technical infraction. "I had a great car at Daytona, but it was one of the most frustrating races of my life. We left there with the comfort in knowing our restrictor-plate program is solid -- which should come as no surprise as the DEI folks have always taken great pride in their restrictor-plate program. We've had this race at Talladega in the backs of our minds ever since Daytona. We know what the Menards/Turtle Wax Chevrolet can do. All we need is a few friends."
That winning day here two Octobers ago, on the other hand, was certainly one of the high points of Menard's racing career. He could seemingly do no wrong as he marched through the entire field for his first ARCA series win. Six months later, in another Andy Petree Racing entry, Menard had another solid weekend here in his first Busch series race on the high-banked, 2.66-mile superspeedway tri-oval, qualifying eighth, recording the fastest lap of final practice, and then flirting with the lead early and often on race day before getting caught in a 10-car wreck just 17 laps from the finish.
"I'm confident we can do it this weekend," said Menard, coming off a season-high qualifying effort of second at Phoenix last Friday after testing Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s #8 Nextel Cup Chevrolet here at Talladega earlier in the week. "With a little help from a few friends, we just might."
Practice for Saturday's Aaron's 312 begins at 8:30 a.m. local time (9:30 a.m. EDT) Thursday, followed by qualifying that afternoon at 4 p.m. local time (5 p.m. EDT) with live coverage on SPEED-TV. Saturday's 117-lap race is set for 1 p.m. local time (2 p.m. EDT) with the FOX broadcast network providing all the action live.