Paul Menard just couldn’t make up much ground on leader Joey Logano as Saturday’s Ollie’s 250 wound down.
And then he didn’t have to.
With four of 125 laps remaining, Logano suddenly slowed and dove down pit road with a flat tire, allowing Menard to inherit the lead. He held on for the victory at Michigan International Speedway.
The win is just the second in the Nationwide Series for Menard, whose only previous win came at Milwaukee in 2006 – an 85-race winless streak.
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“The best car won today, but I thought I gave it away on the final restart,” said Menard. “It took us about three runs (during practice) Friday to get the car dialed in. After that I felt like we had the best car.”
Menard said it was bittersweet to see Logano pull off the track in the final laps.
“I hate for anything bad to happen to Joey. We were better than him all day but I felt I gave it away on the final restart,” he said.
“I finally got into second and was catching him a tenth (of a second) or more a lap – but not enough. I saw him go off (the track) and I said, ‘Well, I don’t need to feel too bad, I guess.’ ”
Sam Hornish Jr., who started the race by spinning and bringing out the first caution on Lap 2, rallied and ended up second. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was third, Kyle Busch was fourth and Brian Scott was fifth.
“On Lap 2, went down into the corner and I didn’t want to dive-bomb (Earnhardt) and went to the outside and got clean air on the nose of the car and the back end came around,” Hornish said.
“That didn’t start off the way we wanted to. We had a good. We just needed long runs and we were able to work our way back up front.”
Hornish was making his third series start of the season with Joe Gibbs Racing. He’s finished fifth, first and second.
Regan Smith, who finished seventh, leads the series standings and holds a 14-point advantage over Elliott Sadler.