Menard wins Brickyard 400
By: Adam Niemeyer (FOX19 Sports)
SPEEDWAY, Ind.(FOX19)—It's been a good year to be a first time winner in NASCAR's biggest races. Trevor Bayne won the Daytona 500 and Regan Smith won the Southern 500 earlier this season.
Now Paul Menard can add his name to the list of first-time winners in NASCAR's crown jewel races. Menard won the Brickyard 400 on Sunday, beating NASCAR vet Jeff Gordon and Smith by saving fuel over the final 30-plus laps.
"I saw my dad as soon as I pulled into Victory Lane and he said something like, '35 years of trying here and here you go, this one's for you,'" said Menard.
Menard had never won in his first 166 races on the Sprint Cup Series circuit.
Jamie McMurray, last year's Brickyard 400 winner, finished fourth and Matt Kenseth came home fifth. Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Mark Martin, Brad Keselowski and Quaker State 400 winner Kyle Busch came home sixth through tenth respectively.
Menard, who has been coming to the speedway since he was a young child, lived out a dream by winning at Indy. His car owner Richard Childress said it was a, "dream come true." Smith considers Menard one of his best friends on the circuit, and said he was excited to see his friend win.
"He always talks about coming up here, he always talks about how much he loves this place," said Smith. "I'm sure if he had to highlight one race to get his first win, he'll tell you, he couldn't be happier."
Gordon had enough fuel to finish and chased down Menard and others who were conserving fuel toward the end of the 160-lap race.
"We all got there, just a little bit short," said Gordon. "Paul did a great job saving fuel. When I got (to Menard) people were still checking up, and it was easy to get by them, but Paul had saved enough to where he could go a full pace."
Points leader Carl Edwards finished 14th. He leads Jimmie Johnson, who finished 19th by 11 points. The win qualified Menard as a "Wild Card" entry into the Chase for the Sprint Cup which begins after the Richmond race in September. Menard jumped to 14th in points, and Denny Hamlin, who is 11th in points is also Chase eligible with one win as a "Wild Card."
Polesitter David Ragan finished 23rd. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 16th. Thirty-two cars finished on the lead lap and 34 cars were running at the finish.
"It's cool. You only get one chance to get your first win," Smith said. "It's a special thing, especially when you do it here."
NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series moves on next week to Pocono for the Good Sam RV Insurance 500 at 1 p.m.
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