Originally written on Race Review Online  |  Last updated 9/28/14

MARTINSVILLE, VA - OCTOBER 23: Paul Menard, sits in the #98 Schrock/Menards Ford in the garage prior to practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 23, 2009 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)

 

This Week's Rheem/Menards Chevrolet at Indianapolis Motor Speedway ... Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 107 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Nationwide Series stable. This No. 33 Chevrolet was built new for 2012 competition and has been utilized on three previous occasions. The chassis was last utilized at Michigan International Speedway in June, where Menard finished eighth after starting from the seventh position.

Menard started this Chevrolet from the pole position and drove it to a second-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway in April while RCR teammate Kevin Harvick started from the seventh position at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May and finished fourth.

Inaugural Nationwide Series Event at IMS ... As the Nationwide Series makes its first appearance at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend, the defending 2011 Brickyard 400 Champion will make his 175th Nationwide Series career start. Menard has amassed one win, 24 top-five and 69 top-10 finishes, five pole awards and has led 551 laps during a career that has spanned nine years. The 31-year old driver made five starts with the Nationwide Series at nearby Lucas Oil Raceway, earning four top-10 finishes and completing 99.9 percent of the contested laps (1,004 of 1,005).

2012 in the Nationwide Series for Menard ... The weekend marks Menard's third of seven scheduled starts for RCR in the Nationwide Series in 2012. He holds one top-five and two top-10 finishes in two starts this season, earning one pole award (Texas Motor Speedway, April) and leading for 137 laps. He will return to the driver's seat of the No. 33 Rheem/Menards Chevrolet next at Watkins Glen International, followed by Chicagoland Speedway, Dover International Speedway (September) and Kansas Speedway (October).

Menards is a familiar sight at IMS ... Entries fielded by Team Menard, owned by Menards founder and owner, John Menard, were fixtures at the storied Indianapolis Motor Speedway long before NASCAR made its first visit to the Brickyard in 1994. The first Menards open-wheel entry that qualified for the Indianapolis 500 was driven by another Eau Claire, Wis., native, Herm Johnson, in 1982, earning a ninth-place finish. Johnson followed up his rookie performance with a top 10 in 1984. Another notable performance came in 1995 (and was repeated in 1996) when Scott Brayton claimed the pole position for the historic event. Other well-known wheel men who drove for Team Menard at Indy include Nelson Piquet, Al Unser, Eddie Cheever, Arie Luyendyk and Buddy Lazier. With the CART-Indy Racing League split in 1996, Team Menard joined the IRL full time, winning back-to-back championships with Tony Stewart in 1996 and 1997. Greg Ray brought the team their third championship title in 1999. In 2004, Team Menard merged with Panther Racing, with Menard eventually withdrawing from motorsports as team owner. Today, the recognizable neon yellow paint scheme adorns entries in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (No. 27 Chevrolet), Nationwide Series (No. 33 Chevrolet), and Camping World Truck Series (No. 88 Chevrolet Silverado) and the No. 44 entry in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.

Meet Menard ... Menard is scheduled to meet with fans and sign autographs alongside NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Matt Crafton and ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards driver Frank Kimmel at the Menards in Avon, Ind. on Thursday, July 26, from 7-8 p.m. ET. The home improvement store is located at 10555 East U.S. Hwy 36. In addition to the Menards show cars, the 2011 Brickyard 400 race-winning trophy will be on display and available to fans for pictures. There will also be opportunities to win general admission tickets to Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race. Details will be released on Twitter via @RCR27PMenard.

In the Rearview Mirror: Chicagoland Speedway ... Brendan Gaughan and the No. 33 Rheem/Menards Chevrolet team started the STP 300 at Chicagoland Speedway from the 10th position and after overcoming challenges which caused him to lose track position on a number of occasions, ultimately drove back into the top 10. The Las Vegas native was racing side-by-side with another competitor when the car on the bottom grove was spun from behind, pinning the Rheem/Menards Chevrolet against the outside wall. The late-race incident caused substantial damage that could not be repaired, leaving Gaughan to retire from the race five laps shy of the checkered flag, relegating the team to a 28th-place finish.

PAUL MENARD QUOTES:

What are your thoughts on the NASCAR Nationwide Series running at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend?

"I think it is going to be very interesting. The Nationwide Series cars will have a lot of wide-open throttle time around the track. I think the cars will draft well and I think turns two and four are going to be pretty much wide open. It's going to be really exciting. I love Indianapolis Motor Speedway so I'm looking forward to getting as many laps around there as possible this weekend."

Do you think that NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers will dominate the race having the advantage of previous experience at Indianapolis Motor Speedway whereas the Nationwide Series regulars do not?

"I don't think it is going to be any different that it is any other week. Ricky (Stenhouse Jr.) is going to be fast, as will our RCR teammates Austin (Dillon) and Elliott (Sadler). Elliott has run a lot of laps there with the Sprint Cup Series. There are a lot of Nationwide Series regulars that have run laps there in the Sprint Cup Series."

RCR PR

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