Menard Breaks 98-Race Winless Drought
BROOKLYN, Mich. – Paul Menard broke a winless streak in the NASCAR Nationwide Series dating back to 2006 Saturday afternoon with a victory in the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet 250 at Michigan Int’l Speedway.
Menard was in the right place at the right time. He was running second with five laps left when race leader Joey Logano suddenly slowed with a flat right-rear tire. Logano hit pit road to replace the flat tire, allowing Menard to inherit the lead.
Menard led the final five laps, beating Sam Hornish Jr. to the checkered flag by .469 of a second to earn his second career Nationwide victory. His last Nationwide victory came at The Milwaukee Mile on June 24, 2006. It took him 98 starts to get victory number two.
“This is a brand new car from the top down,” Menard said in victory lane. “ECR (Engines) gave us a little something under the hood too, trying a new piece. Man, it’s good to be back in victory lane. I think we finished second or third a ton the last couple of years, so this feels really good.”
Logano looked to have the race in hand after a brilliant strategy call by his crew chief Jeremy Bullins to pit under caution on lap 67 while leader Kyle Larson stayed out. When the caution flag waved again on lap 80 for a crash involving Dylan Kwasniewski and Trevor Bayne, the entire field pitted.
However, while Larson and a few others took fuel and tires, Logano, Menard and several others took only fuel. Logano came off pit road first, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. second, Menard third and Elliott Sadler fourth.
Logano was able to pull away during the restart on lap 90 and put a large margin between himself and the battle for second place between Sadler, Earnhardt and Menard. Sadler came out of that battle with the position, but was forced to pit road on lap 102 when trash on his front grill began to overheat his engine.
That gave second to Earnhardt, but he didn’t stay there long. Menard was able to take second on lap 110, with Hornish following in his tire tracks to take over third.