PAUL MENARD LOOKING FORWARD TO FIRST TROPICANA TWISTER 300, NASCAR BUSCH SERIES RACE AT CHICAGOLAND SPEEDWAY

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The Saturday, July 12 Tropicana Twister 300, NASCAR Busch Series event at Chicagoland Speedway might be just another race on the schedule for many, but for Paul Menard and Andy Petree Racing it's one they've had circled since the beginning of the summer. Primary sponsor Turtle Wax, which is located in the Chicago area, will be on hand to support their new driver Saturday, as well as give him a tour of their manufacturing facility earlier in the week.

"I can't wait to go racing in Turtle Wax's backyard," Menard said. "They've been a great sponsor for us this year so I'd like to give them something to talk about this weekend when they hit the office again on Monday. Our Busch program has been strong so far in the first two races. Honestly, we've run even better than our finishes have shown and our finishes have been pretty good. We just cracked the top-10 in the Truck series last weekend at Kansas, so we'd like to do that or better this weekend in Chicago."

Menard has two Busch Series starts this season, finishing 12th at Nashville and 14th at Kentucky. Both tracks are similar to Chicagoland Speedway in size and banking which will help Menard when the cars roll onto the track Friday morning for practice.

"It's definitely a help having raced on a few of these mile and a half tracks earlier this year. The Busch car reacts a little bit differently than the trucks we ran at Kansas, but Kansas I think is almost identical to Chicagoland. My background in touring cars hasn't been racing these bigger tracks, but the way Andy (Petree) set the schedule this summer it's been loaded up with tracks like Chicagoland so I've gotten a lot of experience on them. I feel comfortable now and as a team we keep getting better and faster at these places.

"The key is to keep the car consistent and not overwork the tires. With the banking, if we can find a setup that will keep all four tires working the same, then the tires will last throughout a fuel run without lap times dropping dramatically. Every race we run, we learn more about our race setup to improve that area."

Team owner Andy Petree, the architect of Paul's program made certain the bigger tracks would be added to the schedule because a large part of NASCAR racing has turned to the "intermediate" length tracks with moderate banking. To be successful in NASCAR, a driver and a team have to learn how to be fast at tracks like Chicagoland Speedway.

"We recognized early on that the intermediate track was a place Paul had little experience," said Petree, the former NASCAR Winston Cup championship-winning crew chief for the late Dale Earnhardt. "We knew Paul could drive a race car, but there's a learning curve associated with everything. He's been faced with bigger, heavier cars with more horsepower than what he's used to and also an elevated level of competition. As far as I'm concerned he's been fantastic and the bigger tracks have been no problem either. He was a top-10 driver at the first two Busch races even though we finished just outside the top-10 and he got his first top-10 in the trucks last Saturday. That was only his second Truck Series start. He's only going to get better and he's way ahead of where I thought he'd be when we started this program."

Starting this Thursday, July 10, Chicagolandspeedway.com will be posting Menard's Tropicana Twister 300 race weekend diary for race fans to get a glimpse of this NASCAR Busch Series rookie's perspective of his first race weekend at Chicagoland Speedway. Click here for driver Paul Menard's diary.

Click here for more information about the Tropicana Twister 300.

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