Menard Says Ray Will Stay

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Although Greg Ray and Team Menard have failed to reproduce their winning combination of a year ago, the two will remain together for the 2001 Indy Racing Northern Light Series.

Team owner John Menard admitted Ray is looking at NASCAR as a possibility, but, for now, Ray is locked into a contract with Menard.

"Oh, yeah, we're going to have a team," Menard said. "Greg now is in the second year of a five-year contract. We'll keep on going with a one-car team.

And NASCAR?

"Someday that's something Greg may want to do in his career, but we've got a situation now that I think Greg feels he's got a pretty good situation where he's at," said Menard, who picked up Ray at the end of the 1998 season as a replacement for current NASCAR star Tony Stewart. "I know Greg would be a success in any series he'd run, but as it stands now he's given every indication of fulfilling the contract."

Together, Menard and Ray won the 1999 IRNLS title on the strength of three wins. This year Ray has captured five poles but only one win -- last month at Atlanta. He is 11th in the season standings, but the victory in Atlanta buoyed the team’s morale.

"(Winning at Atlanta) really bolstered us to begin believing in ourselves again that we could actually finish a race," said Menard, who is an original member of the IRNLS. "We just hadn't been able to finish races for whatever reason."

Some say the reason may have been the deteriorating performance of the team’s driver-team manager relationship between Thomas Knapp and Ray.

Knapp was hired as team manager at the same time Ray signed with Menard. The two had raced together in the past, and everything went smoothly their first year together.

But Knapp and Menard agreed to part company in mid-season this year. Menard hired Mitch Davis to fill the team manager role and also is assisting with those duties.

"We'll see how that all goes," he said. "Certainly, Mitch has been a great addition to the team. We're looking at that and a couple of other guys, and we'll just have to wait and see how it all goes. A lot of it depends on this weekend and a couple of tests to see how everybody jells."

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