While the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series enjoyed an off-week ahead of the Southern 500 at Darlington, the Xfinity Series was busy at the Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville. Paul Menard drove to victory on the 14-turn road course Saturday, his third career win at the Lake Elkhart, Wisconsin track, barely beating out Ford’s Ryan Blaney by 0.573 seconds.
Menard started from eighth position in his Camaro after Friday’s Coors Light Pole qualifying session was called off for rain. A caution flag was put out early on the first lap when Tommy Drissi went off course at Turn 5, and when racing resumed, Chase Elliott rocketed into an early lead. He turned the lead over to Ty Dillon on Lap 11 after pitting for fuel, but reclaimed first on Lap 16 once the pit stops cycled through.
The second caution of the day came out on Lap 22 after fluid was spilled on the track, which closed up the significant 13.7-second lead Elliott had gained over the competition by that time. Menard elected to pit during the caution, taking tires and fuel on his second and final pit stop.
On the restart, Brian Scott stole the lead from Elliott, but was later forced to pit for fuel, handing the lead over to Brendan Gaughan. Menard then moved into first after Gaughan pitted, however the third caution of the day was soon put out after Ben Rhodes went off at Turn 7. Menard sat behind Blake Koch for the restart, but Koch’s car then ran out of fuel under caution, moving Menard to first.
Menard held off both Darrell Wallace Jr. and Blaney on the restart to win at his home track. Though he was strong all day, Menard acknowledged he didn’t have a race-winning car, telling NASCAR he wouldn’t have been able to hold off Blaney if they were forced to run for one more lap.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series will join the Sprint Cup Series at Darlington next week for the NASCAR XFINITY Series VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200. Click here for full results from Road America, and here for a full schedule of next weekend’s festivities.