Jason Leffler's hard luck was Paul Menard's good fortune. Leffler was leading the AT&T 250 Busch race at Milwaukee when he spun trying to come onto pit road. It was an advantageous moment for Menard. The second strongest car of the evening, pole...
Jason Leffler's hard luck was Paul Menard's good fortune.
Leffler was leading the AT&T 250 Busch race at Milwaukee when he spun trying to come onto pit road. It was an advantageous moment for Menard. The second strongest car of the evening, pole sitter Denny Hamlin's Chevy was on pit road at the time.
The incident took both of the top cars out of contention for the race lead and allowed Menard to inherit the lead. From there, Menard had to dodge several bullets, as a series of late race cautions threw obstacles in his path.
In the end, Menard was able to survive to grab his first career Busch series win at his home race track. Menard is the second consecutive Busch series regular to earn a win this season, all the other races have been won by Cup series 'Buschwhackers'.
"This was a long time coming," said Menard. "All these guys stuck by me and like I said it's been a long time coming. I definitely could have done without those last few restarts."
Hamlin came back from all sorts of adversity to finish second, "I am pretty happy with that. We had the best car but when we got caught in the pits I thought that was it for us. I am pretty happy to come out of here with second."
JJ Yeley, Leffler and Mike Wallace completed the top five.
Aric Almirola placed Hamlin's No.20 Chevy on the pole for the Milwaukee 250 Busch race. Hamlin, who is doing double duty between Sonoma and Milwaukee this weekend, had to start at the rear of the field due to the driver change; but it took him less than 100 laps to get back to the front of the field.
Hamlin was in the lead on lap 124 when the team decided to pit for fresh tires even though Hamlin wanted to stay out. That gave the lead to Tim Sauter, who did not pit. It did not take Hamlin long, however, to start the charge back to the front.
By lap 134, Hamlin was back in the lead.
Hamlin dominated the field until lap 164, when Leffler made up a 2 ½ second advantage to catch the No. 20 Chevy. The two engaged in a side-by-side battle for a few laps until Leffler finally completed the pass with 83 to go.
Leffler led until lap 206 when he was approaching pit road but spun on the racetrack. To make matters more interesting Hamlin had just pitted under green when the caution came out.
Leffler fell back to fifth giving the lead to Menard; Hamlin went a lap down to 20th. The lead lap cars pitted led by Menard with getting off first maintaining the top spot on the restart with 40 to go.
Numerous late race cautions slowed Menard's charge.
The field restarted with three to go, with Menard still leading the charge but with Kevin Harvick all over his back bumper. Harvick attempted to get Menard sideways to get the position but ended up getting dumped by the third place car of Yeley, spinning out and causing a pile-up of some six cars.
"I got a good restart and just got underneath him, he did what he had to do to protect himself," said Harvick who finished 19th. "I got in the back of him and some one got in the back of me and we all just wrecked."
The melee set up a green/white/checker finish but no one had enough juice to hunt down Menard's DEI Chevy.
Harvick continues to lead Busch series points. Denny Hamlin (-344), Carl Edwards (-378), Clint Bowyer (-408) and JJ Yeley (-452) complete the top five.
There were 11 cautions for 58 laps and 13 lead changes among seven drivers.