Paul Menard inherited the lead of the Ollie's Bargain Outlet 250 at Michigan International Speedway with five laps to go when leader Joey Logano pitted due to a cut right-rear tire and then cruised to his first NASCAR Nationwide Series win since 2006 when he was victorious for the first time.
Menard, who was making his first Nationwide Series start of 2014 in the Richard Childress Racing No. 33 Chevrolet, was catching Logano slowly and trailed by 1.1 seconds on lap 121 of 125 when Logano felt his tire losing air down the back stretch.
"I thought that the best car was going to finish second again, we had that happen to us a couple time last year, and I don't know what happened, I guess he had a flat tire," Menard said in victory lane. "But the best car won today…Hate to wish bad luck on Joey but we'll take it."
Logano would end up finishing in 16th after making the late tire change. Sam Hornish Jr would finish in second place driving the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
Kyle Busch started Saturday afternoon's race from the pole but a three-wide move by Ty Dillon, who started third put him into the lead entering Turn 3 on lap 1. But off Turn 4 it was Paul Menard, who started fifth, who was able to get the lead and officially lead lap 1 at the line. During lap 1 Dylan Kwasniewski got loose and took Brian Scott up the track as both drivers fell from the top 10 to outside the top 25. Then in Turn 4 on lap 1 Sam Hornish Jr spun out to bring out the first caution.
The race would restart on lap 6 with Menard in the lead. Logano would get to the inside of him and the two ran side-by-side all of lap 8 and then on lap 9 in Turn 1 Logano got loose under Menard and the two made contact. Both drivers saved their cars from wrecking but Menard dropped to sixth and Logano seventh. It was Ty Dillon who took advantage and gained the lead.
Green flag pit stops started on lap 38 with Regan Smith. Larson gave up the lead to pit on lap 41 which put Logano in front. He then pitted on lap 43 but his team had trouble on the left-rear which cost them about five seconds. Sam Hornish Jr had driven to eighth before the pit stops after his spin and he pitted from the lead on lap 45 which put Larson back into the lead.
At lap 50 Larson led over Elliott, Menard, Logano, and Busch. On lap 52 Larson was slowed by lap traffic and Chase Elliott took advantage to pass him down the front stretch for the lead. The second caution flew just after that on lap 52 for debris. Menard was the only car in the top five to pit and he would restart on lap 57 in tenth spot.
On the restart Larson took the lead from Elliott and he led when the third caution flew on lap 67 for debris. This time Larson, Elliott, Menard, Brian Scott, Brendan Gaughan, and Regan Smith did not pit so they were in the top six spots for the lap 73 restart. The first drivers off pit road were Busch, Logano, Chris Buescher, Trevor Bayne, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Paul Menard made the move to the lead and on lap 75 he led over Elliott, Larson, Scott, and Logano in the top five.
The fourth caution flew on lap 79 when Dylan Kwasniewski got loose into Turn 1 and spun. He backed up the track into Trevor Bayne and both cars hit the outside wall with heavy contact. Bayne would finish in 30th and Kwasniewski 31st of the 40 cars in the race.
Joey Logano's team got him off pit road first with a fuel only stop. Second off was Dale Earnhardt Jr, with Menard third, Elliott Sadler fourth, and Hornish fifth. Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, and Kyle Busch took four tires and restarted 14th, 15th, and 16th on lap 90.
By lap 100 Logano had opened a big lead over Earnhardt and Menard, who had just gotten by Sadler because Sadler had picked up trash on his nose and was overheating. Sadler would pit on lap 102 to have his crew remove the debris. He ended up finishing in 17th.
Menard and Hornish were able to pass Dale Jr and Menard was slightly catching Logano for the lead but was still 1.1 seconds back with five laps left when Logano's right-rear got a cut in it forcing him to pit and handing the win to Menard.
Sam Hornish Jr finished second, Dale Earnhardt Jr third, Kyle Busch fourth, and Brian Scott fifth. Chase Elliott took sixth, Regan Smith seventh, Kyle Larson eighth, Ty Dillon ninth, and Chris Buescher tenth. Ryan Reed was 11th, Ross Chastain 12th, Ryan Sieg 13th, Landon Cassill 14th and James Buescher 15th. Joey Logano was the last lead lap car in 16th. Elliott Sadler was 17th, Mike Bliss 18th, Dakoda Armstrong 19th, Jeremy Clements 20th, JJ Yeley 21st, and Brendan Gaughan 22nd.
After 13 races Regan Smith leads the Nationwide Series points by 14 over Elliott Sadler. Chase Elliott is 20 points back in third, Ty Dillon is 35 back in fourth, and Trevor Bayne is 50 back in fifth. Brian Scott is sixth, Brendan Guaghan seventh, Chris Buescher eighth, James Buescher ninth, and Ryan Reed tenth.
The next race up is the Gardner Denver 200 at Road America next Saturday, June 21st. It will be the first road course race of the 2014 season.Tags: Chase Elliott, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Dylan Kwasniewski, Elliott Sadler, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, michigan international speedway, Motorsports, NASCAR, NASCAR Nationwide Series, Paul Menard, Regan Smith, Richard Childress Racing, Sam Hornish Jr