Following a poor qualifying run, Paul Menard rolled the line at P30 in his No.21 Ford.
Initially, he went off to a great start moving a few spots into 22nd over the first ten laps by the time Jeffrey Earnhardt spun out.
Although, Menard suffered a flat tire where he slipped out towards the wall at Turn 3 after the next restart.
He immediately made his unscheduled stop to fix up damage from the scene before returning on-track, two laps down.
And that remained unchanged over the rest of this opening stage as Menard finished 37th.
Menard restarted from the same spot he finished in Stage 1 as he’s now a lap down.
Thanks to the Jimmie Johnson spin, Menard’s able to get by three to five spots & remained there for a while.
Towards the halfway point, he’s able to get the lucky dog thanks to the Kyle Larson spin on Lap 103.
That’s because Menard’s the leader out of the lapped down cars.
Having returned to the lead lap, he came home in 28th.
After he chose to stay out, Menard restarted in 8th where he initially went a bit off the pace.
But he stuck by running the bottom which paid off as Menard ran in 6th by the time Jamie McMurray incident on Lap 136.
He might’ve been worried about possible damage made where McMurray pushed Menard down from the previous restart.
But Menard confirmed that it was only smoke with only minor issues in his No.21 car.
He remained running inside the Top 10 towards the end of the race before coming home in 9th.
Paul Menard’s 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Season.
- 31 Starts
- 7750 of 8567 laps completed, 90.5%
- 14 Laps led
- Highest Qualifying Spot: 1st, June 2018 in Chicago
- Best Finish: 5th, June 2018 in Michigan
- One Top 5, 3.2%
- Seven Top 10 Finishes, 22.6%
- Average Start: 16.9 & Finish: 18.7
- DNFs: Five.
- He currently sits 18th in the Drivers’ Standings with 619 points.
- 6th, Daytona 500
- 17th, Atlanta
- 9th, Las Vegas
- 36th/Crash, Phoenix
- 19th, Fontana
- 13th, Martinsville
- 30th/Crash, Texas
- 13th, Bristol
- 24th, Richmond
- 30th/Crash, 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/Crash, Bristol 2
- 17th, Darlington
- 9th, Indianapolis
- 10th, Las Vegas 2
- 22nd, Richmond 2
- 33rd/Crash, Charlotte Roval
- 16th, Dover 2
- 9th, Talladega 2
During the last lap, Menard may have lost a few spots where he didn’t provide any help from Team Penske.
A bit of a bummer on not taking a possible Top 5 finish.
But at least, Wood Brothers & Menard’s happy with the Top 10 finish.
It’s all about caring and managing the fuel load no matter the outcome.
He & Wood Brothers Racing are lucky not to suffer a last lap fall unlike the other drivers at Stewart-Haas:
- Kevin Harvick, Before the final restart in Overtime
- Kurt Busch, the white flag at Turn 3
And most of all, credit to the No.21 Team on helping Menard recover up high towards the end of the race.
Yes, Stage 1 & 2 wouldn’t matter too much having finished towards in & out of the Top 30.
But patience and a decent race car are enough for Paul Menard to get over the finish line.
Menard now scored his 7th Top 10 in his last five races which last dated back to one month at Las Vegas in 10th.
Regarding his Talladega Cup Record, he now ended his four-race Top 10-less streak from April last year until yesterday.
For now, he and Wood Brothers Racing deserve a much-earned rest.
Then they will work hard as they can to leapfrog Ryan Newman at 17th in the Drivers’ Standings & stay there as one of the best cars outside the Round of 16 group.
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