After solid third-place run, Paul Menard turns his thoughts toward home

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 09: Paul Menard drives the #27 Quaker State/Menards Chevrolet during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 9, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 09:  Paul Menard drives the #27 Quaker State/Menards Chevrolet during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 9, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV – MARCH 09: Paul Menard drives the #27 Quaker State/Menards Chevrolet during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 9, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS — After struggling in the second half of last Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Phoenix, Paul Menard came back with a vengeance at Las Vegas, even though his thoughts might have been elsewhere.

With wife Jennifer expecting the couple’s first child – imminently – Menard led six laps in Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, running down Jimmie Johnson for the top spot on Lap 199 of 267, and ultimately finished third behind race winner Brad Keselowski and runner-up Dale Earnhardt Jr.

As it turned out, Menard didn’t need the services of Matt Crafton, who was standing by as a potential relief driver in the event Menard’s wife went into labor.

“It’s big for sure,” Menard said of his strong performance. “We’ve had a really good car the first three races… just missed it about halfway through the race in Phoenix.

“This is good redemption. The guys never give up. Had a great car in Daytona, obviously led a bunch of laps. But this Quaker State/Menards Chevy was hauling ass on long runs. Had a lot of those today and it kind of played in our favor.”

Asked how quickly he would make the return trip to North Carolina, Menard replied, “As soon as possible—I’ve got a plane to catch.”

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.