In A Nutshell: Two in a row for the Busch regulars! Paul Menard, a driver many picked as one of the most likely Busch regulars to win this season, broke through for his first victory at his home track, the Milwaukee Mile. Menard was in position to inherit the top spot when then-leader Jason Leffler spun trying to enter pit road with 45 laps remaining. His D.E.I. crew then stepped up to the plate and kept him up front after the leaders made their final stops of the night during the caution for Leffler's incident. This was just the beginning of the hard work for Menard, as he had to endure a series of cautions and restarts, an assault from second place Kevin Harvick, and a green/white/checker finish with two Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolets breathing down his neck to seal the win. You could almost see the determination throughout as Menard continued to hold onto his spot in spite of every effort from others to take the lead away. The reward for Menard’s perserverance was Victory Lane, while Denny Hamlin and J.J. Yeley had to settle for second and third. Jason Leffler and Mike Wallace rounded out the Top 5 finishers. Kevin Harvick's attempts at trying to move Menard out of his way at the end of the race gained him little as he ended the night 19th, with a trip to the NASCAR truck to boot for a visit with the officials.
Who Should Have Won: Menard. I'm happy with this one just the way it turned out. Menard led the most laps, establishing him as one of the dominant competitors on the night before Leffler’s spin. Honestly, after having to survive six restarts with Cup guys knocking you around and challenging you on all sides, if you can survive, you definitely deserve the win. Menard especially deserves recognition for hanging onto his car with Kevin Harvick hitting him and pushing him sideways through the turn. How he managed not to wreck, let alone not lose his spot, is astounding. Sheer determination not to give up the win is probably the best answer, as well as superb car control. As for Harvick, had he succeeded in knocking Menard out of the way and gone on to win, I would have personally volunteered to help him choke on that prize money.
Three Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race Weekend:
1) Why wasn't Kevin Harvick brought to pit road for an immediate rough-driving penalty during the race?
The man was a menace. First, he terrorizes Steven Wallace. I'm probably more upset about it than Wallace, who took it in stride, but the rookie was clearly not in the way. J.J. Yeley got by just fine, and he was up against the wall and leaving plenty of room when Harvick took a shot at him that flattened his tire and nearly wrecked half the field. That was the lesser of Harvick’s offenses on the night, though, as he next focused his attack on leader Paul Menard. Yes, taking the opportunity to get the guy loose and get by on a restart is good, hard racing. Give him one shot to the bumper, I’d say even give him two when the first one doesn't work. What I can't accept is burying the front bumper of his car under the back bumper of Menard's and pushing him all the way around the corner. That's just too much. This time, Harvick did succeed in wrecking half the field as well, and that's when he should have been brought down pit road and parked for a few laps to think about it. After rampaging all over the track, what was it Harvick did that finally got NASCAR's attention? Pinning the winner’s car to a wall after the race was over…appropriately ending a night of inappropriateness from Harvick.
2) Will Jason Leffler learn not to beat himself?
Leffler gave away another win when he spun trying to get on pit road for his final stop. Let’s just say it's not the first race he has given away with a mistake like that.
3) Can the Busch regulars continue their winning ways?
Starting at Daytona, there will likely be more Cup drivers participating each week as the two series come back together for companion events. Can the Busch regulars continue to hold off the Cup drivers once they have an increased presence on the grid again?
Worth Noting/Points Shuffle:
The highest finishing Busch regular this week was the race winner, Paul Menard. Non-Cup regulars have now won two races in a row.
The top finishing rookie driver in Milwaukee was Danny O'Quinn, Jr. O'Quinn also scored his best career finish to date with a seventh place result.
Although eight Cup regulars raced in Milwaukee, only two, Denny Hamlin and J.J. Yeley, finished in the Top 10.
There was quite a bit of shuffling around among the Top 10 in points this week. Kevin Harvick is still the leader, but his margin is now 344 over new second place man Denny Hamlin. Carl Edwards drops to third, 378 points behind the leader. Clint Bowyer remains in fourth, while J.J. Yeley moves up one spot to fifth.
Paul Menard's win was good enough to move him up two positions to sixth, while Kyle Busch held on to seventh. Greg Biffle, who didn't make the trip to Milwaukee, falls three spots to eighth. Amazingly, Biffle remains in the Top 10 in spite of having three fewer starts than the full-time drivers. Behind Biffle, Kenny Wallace and Johnny Sauter swapped spots, with Wallace moving up to ninth place and Sauter falling to tenth. Honorable mention goes to Jason Leffler, whose much needed Top 5 finish after his spin propelled him five spots from sixteenth to eleventh.
Buschwhackers in this race: 8
Starting spots taken by Buschwhackers YTD: 240 of 729
Buschwhackers finishing in Top 10: 2
Buschwhackers finishing in Top 10 YTD: 121 of 170
Races won by Buschwhackers YTD: 15 of 17
Buschwhackers ranked in Top 10 of Busch Series points standings: 7
"We spun out twice in the race and got caught up in everything that we could have got caught up in, it looked like, and finally there at the end we missed one of the big ones." Stacy Compton
"I kind of had a feeling after I saw the first big wreck there that it was going to get even rougher toward the end. The spotter and everybody did good for me and got me through all the wrecks, and we came out of here with our best finish of the year here again.” Danny O'Quinn
“We had a lot of run-ins tonight. It was hard-core short track racing. We probably deserved ninth. We had a couple of run-ins with Reutimann and it cost me to lose five spots, but could’ve, should’ve, would’ve." Kenny Wallace
Next Up: The Busch Series ends its standalone run and returns as a companion event to the Nextel Cup Series in Daytona next weekend. The Winn Dixie 250 will air on FX at 7:30 PM ET on Friday, June 30th.
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