After a tough qualifying run, Paul Menard rolled off from 20th where he made a great start.
When he moved up to 13th over the first 20-30 laps, the No.21 car looked quiet.
Midway through Stage 1, he stopped by on pit road on Lap 51 for some new tires and fuel plus adjustments.
Towards the end of the opening stage, Martin Truex Jr. was about to lap Menard down.
But Menard fought back and kept ahead of Truex by staying on the lead lap in 21st.
As the first green-flag pit cycle completes, he came home in 17th.
He pitted again during the stage break for a quick swap of rubber and gas as he moved up to 12th before the restart.
However, his next run became not strong as experienced from the opening segment.
His lack of maximum speed held Menard back in 19th before hitting pit road on Lap 165 under green.
Again, they tried to repeat the same strategy is trying to make things better.
But on the performance side of things, it’s not working well.
Likewise, from the 1st stage, Menard had to battle his spot to stay within the lead lap.
As a result, he escaped Truex for the second time as Menard finished Stage 2 in 19th.
With 200 laps to go, Menard restarted from 17th where he’s able to hold on both his spot and the lead lap.
He was on the verge of finishing closer to the Top 15.
But through the 2nd half of the race, he suffered a couple of mishaps on pit road.
First up, Menard lost a few spots from 16th to 21st over speeding during his final green-flag stop on around Lap 265-270.
Then he ran over some piece on the backstretch which cost time some time on pit road.
If he didn’t pit while continuing the debris, then his night would’ve early.
Unfortunately, that cost him a Top 15 finish for Paul Menard at the finish line in 22nd.
Paul Menard’s 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Season.
- 28 Starts
- 7051 of 7861 laps completed, 89.7%
- 12 Laps led
- Highest Qualifying Spot: 1st, June 2018 in Chicago
- Best Finish: 5th, June 2018 in Michigan
- One Top 5, 3.6%
- Six Top 10 Finishes, 21.4%
- Average Start: 16.2 & Finish: 18.6
- DNFs: Four, Crash (Phoenix, Texas, Talladega & Bristol 2).
- He currently sits 18th in the Drivers’ Standings with 566 points.
- 6th, Daytona 500
- 17th, Atlanta
- 9th, Las Vegas
- 36th, Phoenix
- 19th, Fontana
- 13th, Martinsville
- 30th, Texas
- 13th, Bristol
- 24th, Richmond
- 30th, Talladega
- 34th, Dover
- 6th, Kansas
- 14th, Charlotte
- 11th, Pocono
- 5th, Michigan
- 26th, Sonoma
- 13th, Chicagoland
- 28th, Daytona 2
- 11th, Kentucky
- 17th, New Hampshire
- 21st, Pocono 2
- 28th, Watkins Glen
- 16th, Michigan 2
- 36th, Bristol 2
- 17th, Darlington
- 9th, Indianapolis
- 10th, Las Vegas 2
- 22nd, Richmond 2
It’s great to see that Paul Menard has improved his Richmond Cup Record.
Having finished 24th five months ago, he came back this time by improving two spots.
Yes, the No.21 Ford Fusion ran up and down through most of the race.
Although, the first half of Stage 3 looks reasonably quiet having run closer to the Top 15.
But just the mistakes late in the race is one of the only drawbacks evaluated from last night’s race.
They wouldn’t want penalties at all throughout all-race long.
If it’s only an issue in Stage 1 or 2, that’s fine as they can reclaim some time towards the 2nd half of the race.
But for this last stage, it’s not okay.
That way Paul Menard would’ve done better if he finished between the Top 10-15 mark problem free.
It’s a bummer that their back to back Top 10 performances do come to an end.
But he and the Wood Brothers organization are looking forward to some left and right turns at Charlotte next Sunday.
For now, they will get a well-deserved rest before returning work on improving the overall performance at their HQ next week.
It has to be in all sessions long including race day so they can have a shot of returning to the Top 10.
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