Notes: Veteran Menard strolls into Chase contention

Collecting high finishes, Childress driver rises to 11th in points

April 20, 2011

Anybody have Paul Menard in their Chase for the Cup bracket this season?

Anybody outside of his immediate family likely would be lying if they said they did. But look here: Menard is 11th after eight races, with two top-five finishes and three top-10s.

Who could have expected this from a journeyman driver who bounced in and out of three teams before settling in at Richard Childress Racing as the team's fourth driver?

He finished 12th Sunday at Talladega, complementing fifth-place runs at Bristol and Texas and a ninth at Daytona.

"As long as you keep putting yourself in position for top-fives, top-10s, eventually a win is going to come your way," Menard said at Talladega. "I'm pretty confident we're going to get one and contend for one."

Menard, 30, finally is starting to gather attention for something other than his father, John, owning Menards, the Midwest home-improvement chain.

His momentum is growing in other circles. Menard has 875 Facebook fans for a page called the "Paul Menard Empire" — a tribute to his long sideburns.

Edwards' fate? Greg Biffle is going to remain a Roush man for at least three more years after the team announced a contract extension.

Now the focus turns to Carl Edwards.

He has been driving for Roush Fenway since his Cup career began in 2004, but free agency looms after this season. Will Edwards bolt? There has been little speculation about options with other teams, so chances are he is staying as well.

"As you know, our cars are super fast this season, and they will be for the next couple of years," Biffle said. "We're kind of on the upswing with all the things we have going on with our company."

For his part, Biffle — who took a cut in his contract given the downturn in the economy — said he intends to remain in the Roush family for a long time.

Take that: Funny exchange between teammates Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. after Johnson won at Talladega thanks in large part to the aerodynamic push from Earnhardt. Johnson wanted to pay him back by giving him the checkered flag.

"Man, I don't want that," Earnhardt said.

"Well, I have to give you something for the push and working with me."

"No, that's what teammates do."

"Take the damn flag. I'll give you the trophy too."

"No, I don't want the trophy. I'll take the flag, though."

George Diaz

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