BUSCH: Texas: Paul Menard preview

Paul Menard NASCAR Busch Series -- ...

Paul Menard
NASCAR Busch Series -- #33 Menards/Energizer Chevrolet
Team -- Andy Petree Racing, Flat Rock, N.C.

Menard Hopes Promising Bristol Performance Adds Momentum To This Weekend's O'Reilly 300 NASCAR Busch Series Race at Texas

FORT WORTH, Texas (March 31, 2004) -- Coming off of his most promising performance of the young season last weekend at Bristol, NASCAR Busch Series rookie Paul Menard is more than anxious to get back on track at Texas Motor Speedway for Saturday's O'Reilly 300.

The final result may have showed a 28th-place finish for the 23-year-old Menard on the Bristol Motor Speedway half-mile oval last Saturday.

But he and the #33 Menards/Chevrolet team from Andy Petree Racing were making their way to the front of the pack before an overheating problem ended their day some 43 laps from the finish. From his 14th-row starting position, Menard methodically picked off car after car during the middle stages of the race -- young drivers and veterans alike -- and was running laps equal to the leaders before his misfortunes set in.

"That had to be the most fun I've had all year, so far," Menard said. "Unfortunately, while I was out there running so well, I knew in the back of my mind that it was only going to be a matter of time before the overheating problem was going to get us. It's something we discovered before the race that is going to need some serious attention before we hit the short tracks again, and I know we'll be in good shape, then."

The Texas Motor Speedway 1.5-mile high-banked tri-oval is the second track in a row on which Menard and the #33 Menards/Energizer Chevrolet team will have had the luxury of testing prior race weekend. Like at Bristol the week before, they had a highly productive day here last Tuesday (March 23), and expect to benefit in a big way when they hit the track for practice and qualifying this Thursday (April 1).

"We had our struggles at the tracks where I hadn't raced or tested before, like Rockingham and Darlington," Menard said. "But, finally, we're reaching a stretch in the schedule where we're going to race on tracks we've either tested at, raced at, or both. That leaves you with a much better feeling when you get to town. We left Bristol feeling pretty good, all things considered, and we hope to continue that momentum at Texas."

Practice and qualifying for this weekend's O'Reilly 300 begin Thursday. Race time on Saturday is 1 p.m. local time (2 p.m. EST) and the FOX network will broadcast the race live. Friday's "Happy Hour" of final practice will be shown at 3 p.m EST on SPEEDTV.


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Drivers Andy Petree , Paul Menard