Menard scores first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

[media-credit name=”Adam Lovelace” align=”alignright” width=”233″][/media-credit]Paul Menard won his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in the 18th running of the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway holding off a late race charge from Jeff Gordon. Menard started the race in 15th place and was penalized during the race for a pit road violation. After the penalty, crew chief Slugger Labbe got aggressive with fuel mileage and the gamble paid off.

“You know I’ve been coming here since I was a kid and my Daddy has been trying to win this race for 35 years,so this is for my Dad. A lot of emotions right now. Slugger Labbe (crew chief) and all of these guys just do a hell of a job. I can’t believe we won Indy.” Menard said.

With three laps to go, crew chief Slugger Labbe gave Menard the green-light to go and pass Jamie McMurray for the race lead.  Labbe gave constant updates on Jeff Gordon’s lap times, but Gordon ran out of time.  Menard held off Gordon to win in his 167th career start.

Menard’s win continued the trend of first-time winners this season in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events.  Trevor Bayne (Daytona 500), Regan Smith (Darlington) and David Ragan (Daytona).

Gordon overcame a 12-second deficit over the final 12 laps to finish .725 seconds behind.

“Oh my goodness what a day. What a day. I am so proud of this Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet team. I mean they were just flawless. What an awesome race car we have had all weekend long and we showed it, just how strong it was, throughout the whole day and I tell you Alan called a perfect race to get me out front of Harvick there……….it was huge.” Gordon said.

“Well I wanted it really bad you know leading up to that but on the last lap I knew I was too tight behind him and if he didn’t run out I wasn’t going to get him. I needed a few laps to work on him, well I guess I needed a few more laps for him to run out of fuel too.” Gordon added.

Menard, Regan Smith, in third, and Jamie McMurray in fourth all gambled on fuel mileage late in the race.

Regan Smith had another good day finishing 3rd after starting the race in the 27th position.

“This is not a great track for me, so I am happy and if I couldn’t win man the guy in victory lane is my best friend on the circuit and I can’t wait to get down there to congratulate him.” Regan said.

David Ragan in the No. 6 car started on the pole and was quickly over taken by the No. 4 car of Kasey Kahne. Kahne would dominate early on leading Gordon by over 8 seconds at one point. Kahne won the bonus point for leading the most laps on the day. Kahne would go on to finish the race in 18th after spinning through the grass late in the race while trying to avoid the No. 51 car of Landon Cassill who had hit the SAFER barrier in turn three.

Several of the top-10 in points suffered from problems during the day and finished outside the top 10 in the race. Points leader Carl Edwards finished the race in 14th. Jimmie Johnson finished 19th. Kevin Harvick finished in 11th. Kyle Busch rebounded from hitting the wall on the back straight away to finish in 10th. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was another victim of the fuel mileage game played at the Brickyard. Earnhardt led 7 laps during the event after starting 22nd and finished the race in 16th place.

The rest of the top 10 were Matt Kenseth, 5th, Tony Stewart, 6th, Greg Biffle, 7th, Mark Martin, 8th, Brad Keselowski, 9th, and Kyle Busch finished 10th.

“We were probably the second-best car most of the day,” Matt Kenseth said. “I think the 24 had the field covered, so I’m happy for Paul Menard being a first-time winner.  It’s kind of a shame that Jeff didn’t win.  I thought we had the fastest two cars and I was hoping we were gonna be able to duke it out on performance to the end and try to race for that thing, but that’s just the way the racing is these days.”

Carl Edwards remains the point leader followed by 5-time champion Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, and Matt Kenseth. Dale Earnhardt Jr. holds onto the 10th place spot in the point standings. Menard’s win moves him closer to a wild card spot in the Chase for 2011. Paul Menard is 14th in the point standings.

The series heads to Pocono Raceway next weekend for the Good Sam RV Insurance 500.

 

Unofficial Race Results
Brickyard 400, Indianapolis Motor Speedway
http://www.speedwaymedia.com/Cup/race.php?race=20
=========================================
Pos. St. No. Driver Make Points
=========================================
1 15 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet 47
2 8 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 43
3 27 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet 41
4 16 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 41
5 9 17 Matt Kenseth Ford 40
6 24 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet 39
7 18 16 Greg Biffle Ford 37
8 12 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet 36
9 5 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge 36
10 29 18 Kyle Busch Toyota 34
11 19 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 33
12 23 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet 32
13 26 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 32
14 10 99 Carl Edwards Ford 30
15 31 83 Brian Vickers Toyota 29
16 22 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet 29
17 17 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota 27
18 2 4 Kasey Kahne Toyota 28
19 3 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 26
20 32 51 Landon Cassill Chevrolet 0
21 4 22 Kurt Busch Dodge 23
22 6 43 A.J. Allmendinger Ford 22
23 1 6 David Ragan Ford 22
24 30 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 20
25 20 20 Joey Logano Toyota 19
26 39 71 Andy Lally * Ford 18
27 14 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 17
28 7 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet 16
29 11 13 Casey Mears Toyota 15
30 25 21 Trevor Bayne Ford 0
31 33 36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet 14
32 42 32 Mike Bliss Ford 0
33 37 34 David Gilliland Ford 11
34 21 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford 10
35 13 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet 9
36 28 0 David Reutimann Toyota 8
37 35 66 Michael McDowell Toyota 7
38 36 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota 0
39 34 37 Scott Speed Ford 0
40 38 60 Mike Skinner Toyota 0
41 43 223 Terry Labonte Ford 3
42 40 150 T.J. Bell * Chevrolet 0
43 41 7 Robby Gordon Dodge 1

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

Adam Lovelace
Adam Lovelacehttp://www.aclphotography.com
Adam is a photographer, writer, creator, content producer, racing geek, music & art lover in the Cincinnati and southwest Ohio area. He has been shooting motorsports, portraits, products, weddings, and real estate for over 10 years and has also worked on various music videos with bands like Atmosphere, Three Doors Down, & Kenny Chesney, as well as commercials for Cincinnati Bell & Hasbro.

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