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Menard follows Michigan Nationwide win with 4th place Cup run

Jun 15, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT

Pocono 400 - Practice Getty Images

The Irish Hills were good to Paul Menard this weekend.

On Saturday at Michigan International Speedway, the Richard Childress Racing driver took advantage of Joey Logano‘s late misfortune to earn his second career Nationwide Series win.

And in today’s Sprint Cup main event, Menard turned in his second Top-5 result of the year with a fourth-place finish – his best since taking third this past spring at Las Vegas.

“I obviously got to be in Victory Lane yesterday with my daughter and my Dad was here today, so it was a good Father’s Day weekend for sure,” said Menard.

“The car has been fast all weekend [but] we needed some clean air at the end and my guys got me out front on some pit strategy and good pit stops…We just lost a little track position during the race, and Slugger [Labbe, crew chief] and Justin James made a good call to do the pit strategy the way we worked it out.

“It all worked out at the end. Really good car. Good clean air.  The clean air at the end made a difference.”

Additionally, Menard has now collected his third Top-10 finish in the last four races counting an eighth in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte and a 10th two weeks ago at Dover (he was 26th last weekend at Pocono).

More consistency out of Menard could turn him into a possible threat for the Chase as the summer wears on. Thanks to his Michigan result, Menard is now within the Top 16 after leaping four spots in the Sprint Cup driver standings to 13th.

But will RCR be able to raise its overall game to support his bid for the post-season? It bears noting that Menard’s two Top-5s are the only such results that the team has across its three-car stable (the team’s other drivers, Ryan Newman and rookie Austin Dillon, have combined for six Top-10s).

The number of potential spots on the Chase Grid for winless drivers is likely to shrink a little further, too. However, with Menard running well as of late, there’s at least hope for the time being.

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