Paul Menard's third place finish at Las Vegas was his highest since at Kansas in 2012

Nick Bromberg
March 10, 2014
Matt Crafton on standby for Paul Menard at Vegas

Yes, that was Paul Menard briefly side-by-side with Jimmie Johnson for second with less than 50 laps to go in Sunday's Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas.

Right after Menard pulled alongside Johnson, the caution flag flew and the field was jumbled after pit stops. But Menard drove through the field throughout the race's final 42 laps and finished third. The last time he finished third? in October 2012.

Menard has one Cup Series victory. It came at Indianapolis in 2011.

"When that caution came out, we knew that we were going to pit," Menard said. "The question was whether or not to take right sides or gas only. Took gas only, spun the tires really bad on the restart.Everybody on the outside lane seemed to really spin their tires. Whoever had clean air seemed like they checked out.  You saw the 2 do that earlier, the 88 did it at the end. So clean air obviously is still very important, but I felt like our car, I could move lanes and we could race people and pass people, which was obviously really important"

Yes, very important. While drivers like Kyle Busch and Joey Logano found their cars hard to handle in traffic, Menard was able to make headway with relative ease.

There was a chance that Menard was going to miss Sunday's race too. His wife, Jennifer, is due to have the couple's first child on Tuesday. Matt Crafton, the 2013 Camping World Truck Series champion who drives part-time for RCR in the Nationwide Series, was on standby for Menard in case he had to fly back to North Carolina.

"My phone is back at the hauler so she might have called, but I told her to call," Menard said. "Matt Crafton is my backup and he really wants to get in the car, so I told Jennifer if it's important, call Matt because he's sure as hell going to tell me.I didn't get the call, though, so I guess everything is good."

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!