Joey Logano was only a few laps away from victory when suddenly, holding off Paul Menard wasn’t his main problem.
“I could tell something was wrong on the back straightaway,” Logano said.
Logano’s flat tire with about five laps remaining allowed Menard to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series race Saturday at Michigan International Speedway. It was Menard’s second victory on that circuit and first since 2006, and Logano was left trying to come to terms with a race that was going well until the final moments.
“I hate to give them away like that,” Logano said. “You look at the silver lining I guess, which is we had a fast race car and should have won the race. You win some this way and lose some this way.”
Logano was leading when he was derailed by the tire problem. Menard took advantage of his good fortune, holding off Sam Hornish Jr. by 0.468 seconds. It was Menard’s first Nationwide start of the season.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished third, followed by pole-winner Kyle Busch and Brian Scott. Regan Smith finished seventh and remained atop the points list.
Menard, one of several Sprint Cup drivers in contention in the event, won the 250-mile, 125-lap race in his No. 33 Chevrolet. He figures he might have had a shot to win even without Logano’s mishap.
“I would have liked to have lined up nose to tail with Joey,” he said. “It would have been a hell of a race.”
Logano wasn’t disputing that, but the point became moot when he ran over something in his No. 22 Ford and dropped all the way back to 16th place because of the cut tire.
“The 33 was quick and had a fast race car also. We were going to have a race because he was catching me a little bit,” Logano said.