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Friday, Mar. 27, 2015

Paul Menard wins 2011 Brickyard 400

Monday, August 1, 2011

(Photo)
Paul Menard poses at the "Yard of Bricks" after winning the 2011 Brickyard 400 Sunday. Menard held off a charging Jeff Gordon to get the win.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Paul Menard tamed the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and held off a charging Jeff Gordon to pick up his first Sprint Cup victory by claiming the Brickyard 400 Sunday. What started as an uneventful race quickly turned interesting as the end came down to fuel mileage.

"I've been coming here since I was a little kid. My dad has been coming here for 35 years. This was for my dad," Menard said. "A lot of emotions right now. I can't believe we won Indy."

Menard was greeted by his father in victory with a huge hug. Menard has spent numerous years at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway sponsoring cars, so it was only fitting his first victory came with his son behind the wheel.

"For Paul to get his first win here is unbelievable," the elder Menard said. "He's a good boy. He has followed this place all his life. I can't believe it. My heart is going 1,000 miles per minute. It's a wonderful place. Our family has spent so much time here. It's unbelievable."

Menard led 2010 Brickyard 400 winner Jamie McMurray and Mark Martin during the late stages of the race, but was given the green light and pulled away from the duo.

His biggest challenge came from four-time Brickyard 400 winner Gordon, who pitted late and moved his way through the field, coming just short of capturing his fifth Brickyard victory.

"Obviously we wanted to win this race, but we also wanted to make a statement," Gordon said. "I think we certainly did that. You know, this team is for real. We showed that today. You always hear about people talking about, you know, the team that wins here at Indy, their chances for the championship.

"While we didn't win, I think we definitely showed that we're a championship-caliber team," he added.

Indiana native Tony Stewart led a handful of laps late, but he had to pit for fuel and finished the day in sixth place. Stewart jumped two spots in the standings.

The biggest disappointment on the day was Kasey Kahne's day. Kahne led the most laps with 48, but ended up finishing 18th on the day. He followed David Ragan at the start, but quickly moved to the front to lead.

Points leader Carl Edwards had a rough day, starting 10th and finishing his day in 14th place. Edwards stays atop the points standing, while Jimmie Johnson stayed in second just 11 points behind.

"Our day was not good," Edwards said. "But it ended up finishing well. Our Ortho Fusion was pretty slow. I wasn't doing the best job I could."

Fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 16th at the Brickyard Sunday, continuing a streak of finishes outside the top 10. This was the sixth straight race Earnhardt has finished 15th or worse. Earnhardt dropped a spot in the standings to 10th place.

"We did OK," Earnhardt said. "We had a pretty good car. Track position was everything, like I thought it would be. You couldn't pass. You could run as fast as the guys in front of you, and that was it. It was just like a road course because you couldn't pass."

The person who took the biggest hit in the points standings was Kurt Busch, who finished 21st at the Brickyard 400 and slipped three spots in the standings to sixth place.

Menard's win marks the first time a driver recorded his first career win at the Brickyard 400.