Strong showing: Menard's impressive run certainly no fluke
JUN 16, 2014 2:45p ET
Paul Menard is a man of few words. But what he did this past weekend at Michigan International Speedway spoke volumes about how far he's come in NASCAR.
On Saturday, Menard defeated a strong field to win the Ollie's Bargain Outlet 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at the 2-mile MS oval, and he followed that up with a strong fourth-place finish in the Quicken Loans 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday. As weekends go, that's about as good as it gets.
Equally impressive is that Menard has moved up to 13th place in the Cup points standings right now. And his fourth-place run at Michigan was his second top-five finish of the year, which is two more than either of his Richard Childress Racing teammates Austin Dillon and Ryan Newman have.
Not that Menard made a big deal of it; that's not really his style. But he was understandably pleased with his entire weekend.
"Yeah, we had a really solid Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Chevy all weekend, from the time we unloaded," said Menard after Sunday's race. "I actually got to go to Victory Lane (Saturday) with my daughter and my dad was here today, so it was a good Father's Day weekend, for sure."
Menard has been impressive pretty much all season. He came out of the gate strong, leading 29 laps in the season-opening Daytona 500, only to get snared in a 12-car crash not of his own making.
But it isn't his only good one. Menard has finished in the top 10 four times in his last six races, demonstrating consistency and speed. Given the recent dominance of the Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets, that's impressive. Sunday at MIS, Menard was the top-finishing non-Hendrick-powered Chevrolet.
"The car, like I said, was fast all weekend," Menard said. "We needed some clean air at the end and the guys got me out front with some pit strategy and good pit stops and we came home with a top 5. So it was pretty good. ... We just lost a little track position during the race, and Slugger (Labbe, crew chief) ... made a good call to do the pit strategy the way we worked it out. It all worked out at the end. Really good car. Good clean air. The clean air at the end made a difference."