Making his first NASCAR Nationwide Series start of the season, Paul Menard had one of the fastest cars on the track all day, driving the No. 33 Rheem/Menards Chevrolet to a third-place finish at Michigan International Speedway on Saturday. Qualifying on the outside pole earlier in the day, Menard slipped back several positions during two early caution periods on laps two and eight while he battled with a tight-handling car.
Although he was tight in traffic, Menard posted lap times faster than the leader and worked his way up to second at lap 58. After a lap 65 caution period, Menard made slight contact with another competitor on the ensuing restart, causing damage to the right-rear quarter panel of the No. 33 machine. A lap 81 caution flag allowed crew chief Ernie Cope to call his driver down pit road for repairs to the quarter panel, four fresh tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment.
After a lengthy pit stop, Menard restarted in 10th with 40 laps to go. It didn’t take long for Menard to make his way back toward the front of the field, as the Eau Claire, Wis., native was scored in fourth at lap 107. Just two laps later, Menard was tagged from behind while making a pass for third, causing him to fall to seventh with 15 laps remaining in the 125-lap event. Driving the fastest car on the track, Menard worked his way to third before the checkered flag flew at Michigan International Speedway.
Start – 2 Finish – 3 Laps Led – 0 Owners Points – 9th
PAUL MENARD QUOTE: “We had an awesome Rheem/Menards Chevrolet Camaro at Michigan International Speedway. We passed a lot of cars today. We seemed to fall back a little on the restarts, but it didn’t take long for us to make up ground on the leaders with how fast our car ran all day. I felt like we had the car to beat and if we had a few more laps, I think we would have been in contention for the win. I enjoyed getting back in the Nationwide car and we’ll take a third-place finish. I can’t thank Ernie (Cope, crew chief) and the whole team enough for all of their hard work today. I had a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to our next Nationwide (Series) race later in the season.”
-Richard Childress Racing PR