Wisconsin native Paul Menard held off a surge by Ryan Blaney in the closing laps to win Saturday’s Road America 180 Fired Up By Johnsonville NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
Menard didn’t let a last lap tap by runnerup Blaney to get past shake him and then pulled away to beat his opponent by about a five-car length margin.
Brian Scott finished third, followed by Chase Elliott and Darrell Wallace Jr.
Boris Said finished sixth, followed by Justin Marks, Regan Smith, Chris Buescher and Ty Dillon.
Menard becomes the sixth different winner in as many Xfinity races at Road America. It adds to his biggest career wins, including the Brickyard 400, at Milwaukee and now, Road America.
There have now been different winners in the last eight road course races in the Xfinity Series.
MORE: Results and winnings from Road America 180 Fired Up By Johnsonville Xfinity Series race
MORE: Chris Buescher remains atop tight Xfinity standings after Road America race
How Menard won: Menard led just nine laps over two separate times. He took the lead for good on Lap 40 and held on to the checkered flag despite a strong last-lap run by Ryan Blaney. Blaney tried to move Menard out of the way on the last lap, but the Wisconsin native would not let Blaney past and motored to a .572 second winning margin.
Who else had a good race: Chase Elliott dominated the first half of the race, leading 23 laps, but struggled in the second half of the event. That included making an uncharacteristic mistake on Lap 28 by running off the track and into the grass, costing him several seconds and dropping him to seventh place and eventually to 17th before rallying back to fourth in the final nine laps. Elliott also closed in to just 16 points behind Chris Buescher in the Xfinity driver standings. … Brian Scott had a strong race, finishing third. … In a pre-race interview, Boris Said indicated that Saturday’s race may be his last in NASCAR. Said finished sixth.
Who had a bad race: The race wasn’t even one lap old when the first caution flag came out when Tommy Drisi slid off turn five and became stuck in a gravel pit. Drissi had another issue on Lap 24 when he ran out of fuel at the furthest point from pit road. The caution came out again and Drissi had to have his car pushed all the way back to the pits. He finished 36th. … Pole-sitter Ben Rhodes had to head to the pits on Lap 7 when he flat-spotted a tire. Rhodes then spun out and got stuck in the gravel on Lap 35, bringing out the caution. Rhodes finished 32nd in his seventh career Xfinity start. … Regan Smith’s championship hopes took a hit when the battery in his car quit with eight laps to go due to a dead battery and he had to be pushed by a wrecker to pit road. But it could have been worse: Smith finished eighth. Still, he’s just 50 points behind Buescher in the standings.
Notable: Rain washed out qualifying, but other than a few minor sprinkles, the race was rain-free. … This was the sixth straight year that the Xfinity Series has raced at Road America. NASCAR’s top series has raced just once at the track, back in 1956 when Tim Flock won in what was then known as the NASCAR Grand National Series (now Sprint Cup Series).
Quote of the day: “Not at all. Zero percent. I absolutely failed today. Way too many mistakes on my part. I screwed it up for my guys. Absolutely unacceptable, cannot have that. I apologize to them. I had a great car. I just 100 percent screwed it up. I just fell out of sync, didn’t drive right. You name it, I did it.” – Chase Elliott, when asked how satisfying it was to rally back to finish fourth.
What’s next: VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200, Saturday, Sept. 5, 3:30 pm ET at Darlington Raceway.