It has been a strong start to the season for Paul Menard. In fact he has shown every week to bring, good, fast and competitive race cars to the track. The last couple weeks have not been so kind to him. Since his 14th place finish at Martinsville he has not finished better than 25th.

His recent string of tough luck has him outside the top 12 in points. Not what he was looking for after his strong start to the season.

On Sunday he had a very good race car. They ran around mid pack for most of the day, just logging laps and getting ready for the end of the race.

Menard has shown he can run well at restrictor plate tracks and shown he can run up front. In the past he ahs hooked up with guys like Dale Earnhardt, Jr. his former teammate. He ahs proven he can push a car to the front also, which as we seen in the last couple races is very important.

On lap 84, Johnny Sauter and Kyle Busch made contact with each other. Sauter went spinning across the field collecting 10 cars in total, including Menard.

They were able to make repairs to the car but they were never able to really get back up there and contend for the win. They finished 25th.

His recent string aside, I think he is more than capable to climb back in the top 12 but he cannot afford anymore poor finishes. Especially because the guys he is racing are finishing in the top 10 consistently.

Now we head to Richmond International Raceway for a race under the lights on Saturday. Since 2007 his average finish is 27.5. Not very impressive and not the finish he needs to break this recent run.

He has only led one lap there in 2007 since then he has not been up front at all. He finished 30th in the spring race.

Menard and his team if they can’t qualify well are going to have to have early cautions to work on the car; otherwise it will be a long night for Menard and his team.

Check out Jen Preston’s Lugnut Report on Jimmie Johnson.