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Menard leads DEI 1-2 in Coke Zero 400 qualifying

NASCAR at Daytona
Friday, July 04, 2008

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Paul Menard
Dale Earnhardt Inc. driver Paul Menard captured his first career Sprint Cup pole Friday to lead an all DEI front row in qualifying for Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

Menard is joined on the front row by veteran Dale Earnhardt Inc. driver Mark Martin, who will start on the outside of Menard in the second position. In addition, DEI rookie Regan Smith will start eighth in the race.

Menard recorded a time and speed at the 2.5-mile oval of 48.409 seconds at 185.916 miles per hour. Martin's numbers were 48.421 and 185.870

“It’s obviously a good position to be in,” said Menard. “We didn’t focus on qualifying at all during practice, so I didn’t know what we would have. I was really happy with how the car drove in the draft and just how fast it was. It had good speed, so I thought we would qualify really well.

“Hats off to everyone at DEI and Earnhardt Childress Engines,” added Menard. “We had great power. The car was fast at Talladega, but we had a little more power in the engine today and that’s what did it for us.”

Martin's qualifying result was his fifth top-four and second outside pole in 13 Cup races this season. 

“We have a really good car here this weekend,” said Martin. “I’m having a blast driving these cars and (crew chief) Tony Gibson and everyone at DEI continues to give me great cars to drive each week. This really says a lot about our engine program and kudos to the Earnhardt-Childress program for the gains they have made since February.

“Speed here is mostly done in the engine shop, so I just want to give those guys credit,” added Martin. “We have a really good car here. I was able to pass cars on the outside in practice – without help. If the car races anything like it practiced on the last run, we are going to have some big fun tomorrow night.”

Smith, who posted his second top-eight qualifying result in the last four races, is also optimistic heading into tomorrow night’s event.

“It was a great lap,” said Smith. “You would like to say that it’s all driver, but it’s really about the team and the engine here at Daytona. All of the guys on my team and (crew chief) Dan Stillman did an awesome job, and all the guys at ECR (engines) did a great job. Having three cars in the top 10 from DEI shows just how strong our engines are.

“It definitely gets you all pumped up for tomorrow night’s race to know that you have a fast race car. If we do the right things with it, and I put it in the right position on the race track, then we should have a good run tomorrow.” 

Saturday night's race will be televised on TNT, beginning with a 90-minute prerace show at 6:30 p.m. EDT.

Results

POS

CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR SPEED TIME BEHIND
1 15 Paul Menard Chevrolet Vertis / Menards 185.916 48.409 Leader
2 8 Mark Martin Chevrolet U.S. Army 185.870 48.421 -0.012
3 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Nat'l Guard Defending Freedom (ACU) / AMP Energy 185.437 48.534 -0.125
4 78 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet Furniture Row Racing 185.288 48.573 -0.164
5 70 Johnny Sauter Chevrolet Haas Automation 185.250 48.583 -0.174
6 6 David Ragan Ford AAA 185.246 48.584 -0.175
7 160 Boris Said Ford No Fear / Advance Auto Parts 185.181 48.601 -0.192
8 01 Regan Smith* Chevrolet DEI / Principal Financial Group 184.976 48.655 -0.246
9 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Interstate Batteries 184.828 48.694 -0.285
10 10 Patrick Carpentier* Dodge Auto Value / Bumper to Bumper 184.676 48.734 -0.325
11 28 Travis Kvapil Ford Ford. Drive one. 184.672 48.735 -0.326
12 22 Dave Blaney Toyota Caterpillar 184.653 48.740 -0.331
13 84 A.J. Allmendinger Toyota Red Bull 184.638 48.744 -0.335
14 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Reese's 184.532 48.772 -0.363
15 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Office 184.528 48.773 -0.364
16 5 Casey Mears Chevrolet CARQUEST / Kellogg's 184.487 48.784 -0.375
17 20 Tony Stewart Toyota The Home Depot 184.472 48.788 -0.379
18 109 Sterling Marlin Chevrolet Miccosukee Resort & Gaming 184.460 48.791 -0.382
19 17 Matt Kenseth Ford R+L Carriers 184.430 48.799 -0.390
20 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge Pillsbury Cinnabon / Cheerios 184.388 48.810 -0.401
21 00 Michael McDowell* Toyota Champion Mortgage 184.362 48.817 -0.408
22 21 Jon Wood Ford U.S. Air Force 184.362 48.817 -0.408
23 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet AT&T Mobility 184.211 48.857 -0.448
24 99 Carl Edwards Ford Aflac 184.170 48.868 -0.459
25 07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 184.166 48.869 -0.460
26 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 184.090 48.889 -0.480
27 38 David Gilliland Ford FreeCreditRep ort.com 184.083 48.891 -0.482
28 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 184.049 48.900 -0.491
29 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA AUTO PARTS 183.970 48.921 -0.512
30 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 183.820 48.961 -0.552
31 42 Juan Montoya Dodge Juicy Fruit Slim Pack 183.809 48.964 -0.555
32 12 Ryan Newman Dodge Samsung HDTV / Alltel 183.760 48.977 -0.568
33 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 183.737 48.983 -0.574
34 44 David Reutimann Toyota UPS 183.625 49.013 -0.604
35 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Swing Vote 183.587 49.023 -0.614
36 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 183.542 49.035 -0.626
37 7 Robby Gordon Dodge Robby Gordon Motorsports 183.441 49.062 -0.653
38 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Best Buy / Garmin 183.355 49.085 -0.676
39 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Polaroid / TUMS 183.307 49.098 -0.689
40 26 Jamie McMurray Ford IRWIN Marathon with WeldTec 183.258 49.111 -0.702
41 9 Kasey Kahne+ Dodge Budweiser 182.671 49.269 -0.860
42 77 Sam Hornish Jr.+* Dodge Penske Truck Rental 181.734 49.523 -1.114
43 45 Terry Labonte Dodge Richard Petty Driving Experience Champion's Provisional
Did Not Qualify
44 66 Scott Riggs Chevrolet Hunt Brothers Pizza 184.268 48.842 -0.433
45 96 J.J. Yeley Toyota DLP HDTV 184.079 48.892 -0.483

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