For years Paul Menard visited Indianapolis Motor Speedway with his father. Drivers moving through the ranks of stock car racing dream of winning at Daytona, Paul Menard dreamed of winning at Indy. Paul’s father, John Menard, sponsored IndyCar teams for years hoping to experience the joy of victory lane at the 2.5 mile squared track.
Paul Menard celebrates on the bricks after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
(July 30, 2011 – Source: Chris Graythen/Getty Images North America)
On July 31, 2011 John Menard finally got to experience the thrill of a victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and who would have guessed it would his son that would get him there. Despite having made over 150 career starts at the Sprint Cup level few expected Paul to compete for a top ten finish much less a win.
Despite starting 15th, when it was over, Paul Menard finished first.
While he had a good car, Menard didn’t have the fastest car that day. Instead his crew led by veteran crew chief Slugger Labbe used pit strategy.
When caution came out on lap 121 most of the leaders stayed out. Paul Menard pitted. When the leaders pitted Menard assumed the lead on lap 145. It wasn’t that simple though.
Jeff Gordon, a four time Indy winner, was running Menard down. With each lap Menard got closer to the finish line but Gordon was getting closer to him as well. Gordon had two fresh tires and knew he could make it on fuel. Menard was out on old tires wondering if he had enough gas to make it.
In the end the #27 Menards sponsored Chevrolet had just enough of a lead over Gordon to claim his first Sprint Cup victory.