CLICK: Full race results, qualifying and practice speeds and Nationwide Series championship standings.
Paul Menard won Saturday afternoon's Ollie's Bargain Outlet 250 race at Michigan International Speedway, only his second win in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 184 starts, his first being way back in June 2006 at Milwaukee.
"I was more nervous today than I've been in awhile because I knew we had a fast NIBCO/Menards Chevy and didn't want to mess it up," he said after clinching the chequered flag. "We were able to come back and be in position to win.
"The guys did a great job all weekend by giving me a fast car that only got better. My family is here with me this weekend for the first time since my daughter was born, so that makes it even more special," he added. "This is a brand-new car, a brand-new motor we're trying out and it proved itself, I think."
Menard had dominated the practice sessions and had topped both of the first two qualifying elimination rounds, but pole slipped through his fingers at the last minute. Not that it mattered - he immediately took the lead from polesitter Kyle Busch at the start of the 125-lap race just before an early spin by Sam Hornish Jr. brought out the first caution on lap 2.
After the restart, Menard was involved in light contact with a loose Joey Logano which caused him to drop back, handing the lead to Ty Dillon and then to Kyle Larson who settled in for a long stay at the front which saw him continue to lead following the first round of green flag pit stops. Only when he started to get held up by lapped traffic did Larson's lead finally evaporate, and Chase Eliott had just edged in front when the second caution of the day came out for debris on lap 52.
Larson quickly recaptured the lead again at the restart and he was still in charge when the next debris caution was signalled on lap 67. With the fuel window to get to the finish still out of reach, the leaders - Larson, Elliott and Menard - all stuck to their strategy and stayed out of the pits, while Kyle Busch beat Logano, Chris Buescher, Trevor Bayne, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and James Buescher in the race off pit road among those who had decided to stop.
A poor restart for Larson enabled Menard to return to the lead ahead of Elliott while Logano was soon up to fourth head of Brian Scott, just before the fourth caution of the day when Dylan Kwasniewski got loose while running underneath Trevor Bayne, losing the backend of the #31 in turn 2 and sending both cars into the outside wall. The extensive damage to Kwasniewski's car meant an extended clean-up period and now everyone was onto pit road for their final stops.
Having previously pitted for four tyres, Logano this time was able to pit for fuel only and duly got out in front of Earnhardt, Menard, Elliott Sadler, Sam Hornish Jr., Ty Dillon and Brian Scott; Menard and Scott were the best-placed drivers to take two tyres. However the lack of fresh rubber did little to disadvantage Logano at the restart, and as the remaining laps ticked down without any further cautions it was clear that Logano's strategy had been the winning one and that the #22 was heading to victory lane.
Except it didn't quite work out that way: on lap 121 with five laps remaining, Logano suddenly slowed and pulled down to the apron to enter pit road, the team radio confirming that he had a flat right-rear tyre. That dropped him to the back of the lead lap in 16th place, while Menard was ideally positioned to pick up the lead and run with it to the chequered flag.
"I ran over something. That pretty much sucks," said Logano afterwards. "I could tell something was wrong on the back straightaway and then it made us go up the race track. I hate to give them away like that.
"We had a really good Discount Tire Ford Mustang this whole race. We kept fighting through the field and came up to the front and were having a lot of fun. Once I finally got clean air we were able to pull away," Logano added. "The #33 [Menard] was quick and had a fast race car also. We were going to have a race because he was catching me a little bit
"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."
In the championship standings, Regan Smith leads by 14 points over Elliott Sadler, who suffered a late setback after debris on his front grille caused the #11 to overheat and obliged him to pit to have it taken care of with less than 20 laps remaining, dropping him off the leap lap in 17th position in the process. In the owners standings, the late misfortune for Logano in the #22 Penske car means that the #54 Joe Gibbs Racing car extends its lead to 59 points despite Kyle Busch never looking to have the right set-up to compete for better than fourth place this week.
Full race results, qualifying and practice speeds and Nationwide Series championship standings.