Menard outruns Gordon for Brickyard 400 win|
Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - Paul Menard fulfilled a lifetime dream by
kissing the bricks at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday.
Menard, who grew up in Eau Claire, WI and raced throughout the Midwest earlier
in his career, conserved enough fuel and held off a hard-charging Jeff Gordon
in the closing laps to win one of the most prestigious Sprint Cup Series
events of the season -- the Brickyard 400.
The 30-year-old Menard became the first driver to win his maiden Sprint Cup
race at Indianapolis. He also became the fourth first-time race winner
in the series this season, joining Trevor Bayne (Daytona 500), Regan Smith
(Darlington) and David Ragan (Daytona July race).
His father, entrepreneur John Menard, had long been waiting for a win at
Indianapolis after sponsoring many teams in the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard
400 the last several decades.
"I've been coming here since I was a little kid, and my dad has been trying to
win here for 35 years, so this one is for my dad," a jubilant Menard said in
victory lane. "There's a lot of emotions right now, but [crew chief] "Slugger"
Labbe and all of these guys have done a heck of a job. Man, I can't believe we
While stretching his fuel during the late-stages of the race, Menard passed
Jamie McMurray, the defending race winner, with four laps remaining. He
finished 0.725 seconds ahead of Gordon for his first victory in his 167th
NASCAR big league start.
"I knew that I had saved plenty of fuel, but I was more worried about the guys
who pitted after me and were coming hard," Menard added.
Menard's first win in the Nationwide Series came in 2006 at The Milwaukee
Mile, located roughly 240 miles southeast of his hometown.
Gordon was attempting to win his fifth Brickyard 400, which would have placed
him in a tie with Formula One legend Michael Schumacher for most victories at
"I knew that we weren't quite going to get to Paul; it was really about him
running out of fuel," Gordon said. "We tried as hard as we could to put
pressure on him. To not win this race, it sure was great to run that good."
Smith finished third, while McMurray ended up with a season-best fourth-place
"We were really close on fuel," McMurray said. "I got by the No.27 [Menard],
because I wanted to be leading the race. I knew that it was going to be easier
to defend than it was to pass when everyone decided to take off. We got a
little bit lucky today. We've had a tough year and a lot of bad luck, so it
was nice to have good luck today."
Indiana-native Tony Stewart finished sixth, followed by Greg Biffle, Mark
Martin, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch, who bounced back after making contact
with the wall earlier in the race.
The 160-lap race featured five cautions, including one for an accident that
involved Kasey Kahne and Landon Cassill in the late going. Cassill spun around
after he and pole sitter David Ragan made contact.
Kahne spun around in the grass while trying to avoid the incident. He had led
47 of the first 51 laps. Kahne ended up finishing 18th.
Carl Edwards remained the points leader after his 14th-place run. He holds an
11-point advantage over Jimmie Johnson, who finished 19th. Kevin Harvick is 12
markers behind Edwards after placing 11th.
Menard's win allowed him to move from 19th to 14th in the rankings. He
currently holds the second wild card spot with six races to go before the
Chase for the Sprint Cup championship begins. Denny Hamlin occupies the first
wild card position. Hamlin fell one spot to 11th in points following his 27th-
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 16th and continued to slide in the standings.
Earnhardt Jr. has dropped from third to 10th in points since the June 19 race
at Michigan. He is presently 19 points ahead of Hamlin.
07/31 18:19:29 ET