SPARTA, KY – Heading into Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 at the Kentucky Speedway, Alex Bowman held a narrow advantage in the playoff standings over Ricky Stenhouse Jr. But, the two bubble drivers had a rough go of it on the 1.5-mile track.
Stenhouse, had to pit multiple times for a barrage of problems early on in the race and would finish a disappointing 26th as a result. Bowman, had an opportunity to capitalize and extend his gap, but after taking just two tires on his pit stop following the opening stage, he had a right front tire go down on his No. 88 Chevrolet and would crash in Turn 4 on Lap 109 as a result. He’d come home last and see his three race streak of top 10 finishes come to an end.
With all that being said, Paul Menard capitalized on his opportunity at hand. He entered this weekend 55 points behind Bowman for the final cutoff spot but leaves 23 points out with seven races to go in the regular season with an 11th place run.
Menard, scored stage points in each of the two stages, bringing his No. 21 Ford home fifth in Stage 1 and 10th in the second stage. That netted him seven points compared to zero for the drivers he’s chasing.
When the both endured problems, Menard had to go in conservative mode. While he wanted to finish up front, he just need to escape with a top 15. He’d do just that. This run now has him in a position to be within striking distance to make the playoffs on points alone.
Saturday night was a great situation for Menard and the Wood Brothers.