NASCAR »

Paul Menard stuns with maiden win at Indy

By virtue of his previous earlier stop, Earnhardt was the first of the leaders in for the next round of green flag pit stops and was in on lap 77. Johnson and Paul Menard briefly led a lap during the cycle, before Jeff Gordon once again resumed the lead in what was looking like a promising, dominating performance by the #24.

A caution for debris on lap 94 allowed everyone to cool their engines down and head for pit lane for fuel and tyres as well as a clean-up of the air intake grills. Paul Menard led the field to the restart, with Kasey Kahne now in fourth ahead of Jeff Gordon in fifth place and Jimmie Johnson tumbling to 13th after opting to take a full set of new tyres, while Kyle Busch - who had been running in eighth - has a long stop to sort out some collision damage on the #18 sustained when he slid through his pit box into Tony Stewart's, putting him down to 21st.

"We made contact on the pit stop when Tony was coming in and I was coming out," explained Kyle. "It was our fault. We should have waited for him to come in. After that, we got into traffic and knocked the nose in. We salvaged along from there."

"It's a long pit road, but it's a narrow pit road," added Stewart. "I feel bad for Kyle and those guys because they had a good day going at that time."

Menard handed the lead to Matt Kenseth on lap 105, and Kenseth checked out taking Gordon with him, the two pulling out 2s over Juan Montoya who was up in third place by the time the fourth caution of the afternoon came out lap 114, caused by Kyle Busch still struggling with handling and finding the wall in turn 2.

Brad Keselowski - who had won the previous day's Nationwide race at nearby Lucas Oil Raceway and was evidently hungry for more success - led at the restart ahead of Jeff Burton, Jamie McMurray, Landon Cassill and Juan Montoya but it was a short-lived green, with Landon Cassill and David Ragan making contact on lap 120 to take the race back to caution again, Cassill's sideways slide sending Kasey Kahne and others into the in-field grass. Kahne dropped to 16th in the aftermath. Kurt Busch - already hampered by bodywork damaged sustained by hitting the wall in the opening laps - was among those to clog his radiator grille with debris and need pit lane attention to get it cleaned out to avoid overheating, as was Paul Menard who also come in for fuel and tyres with a final extra top-up just before the green flag came out in the hope that they might make it all the way given a few more caution laps along the way.

Brad Keselowski was still in the lead at the next restart on lap 126 with Clint Bowyer moving up into second spot. But a strange sight was unfolding behind them: even though there had just been an opportunity for pit stops under yellow less than half a dozen laps previously, suddenly cars including Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Burton were all piling in under green instead, the absolute outer threshold for being assured of making it to the end of the race on a tank of fuel having finally been crossed.

Keselowski followed suit and came in on lap 132, and Bowyer was in two laps later with Jeff Gordon in the lap after that. Tony Stewart picked up the lead of the race on lap 136, and did not immediately follow the template, making some observers wonder if he could make it all the way to the end on his current tank of gas. His crew chief Darian Grubb was on the radio to say that they needed to save an extra lap and a half to make it - achievable given that Stewart had a lead of 12s to play with over Brian Vickers, Paul Menard, Mark Martin and Jamie McMurray. But Stewart decided otherwise, and rather than risk running humiliatingly dry in the final seconds of the race he decided to play safe, and came in for a top-up on lap 146 with 14 laps left to run.

That left Paul Menard in the lead, but with no further cautions materialising he and those around him were frantically leaning off the fuel as much as was humanly and mechanically possible, the cars even coasting down the main straights on the lowest revs possible to save valuable gasoline in a ploy that made for a strangely ghostly effect as the cars glided near-soundlessly down the Speedway straightaways for long stretches.

The nearest car with a full tank of fuel was Jeff Gordon, and he was 12s down the road, but Menard was working his fuel so hard now that he even lost the lead to Jamie McMurray who seemed less concerned about making it to the end, and rather more alarmed by the way Gordon had now closed to 7.7s with seven laps remaining.




Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
CEO and President of Big Machine Records Scott Borchetta waves the green flag, while David Ragan, driver of the #6 UPS/Ned Jarrett NASCAR Hall of Fame Ford, and Kasey Kahne, driver of the #4 Red Bull Toyota, lead the field to the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 31 in Indianapolis, Ind. [Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 31 in Indianapolis, Ind. [Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Cars race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 31 in Indianapolis, Ind. [Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images]
Paul Menard, driver of the #27 NIBCO/Menards Chevrolet, leads a group of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 31 in Indianapolis, Ind. [Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Crew members congratulate Paul Menard, driver of the #27 NIBCO/Menards Chevrolet, in front of the pagoda after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 31 in Indianapolis, Ind. [Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images]
Paul Menard, driver of the #27 NIBCO/Menards Chevrolet, celebrates on the bricks after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 31 in Indianapolis, Ind. [Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images]
Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 United States Air Force Ford, walks through the garage area prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Scott Halleran/NASCARA via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Patriotic Chevrolet, climbs from his car after being involved in an on track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Hellmann`s Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series Subway Firecracker 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on July 4, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Scott Halleran/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Hellmann`s Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series Subway Firecracker 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on July 4, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Hellmann`s Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane with Jared Fogle of Subway after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Subway Firecracker 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on July 4, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Patriotic Chevrolet SS, qualified fifth Friday, July 4, 2014 for Saturday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Johnson is 2nd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, left, talks with Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts at Kentucky Speedway on June 27, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky.  (Photo Credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Panasonic Chevrolet SS, races to second place Sunday, June 22, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Raceway in Sanoma, California. Gordon leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Christa L. Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 Cessna Chevrolet, leads the field at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 22, 2014 in Sonoma, California.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Kingsford/Clorox Chevrolet SS, qualified second Saturday, June 21, 2014 for Sunday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Raceway in Sanoma, California. He will be sharing the front row with pole winner, Chevy`s Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 Cessna Chevrolet SS. Allmendinger is 21st in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Christa L. Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 Cessna Chevrolet SS, won the pole position Saturday, June 21, 2014 for Sunday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Raceway in Sanoma, California. McMurray posted a track record with a time of 74.354 seconds (96.350 mph). Next to him on the front row will be Chevy`s AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Kingsford/Clorox Chevrolet SS. McMurray is 20th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 Cessna Chevrolet SS, won the pole position Saturday, June 21, 2014 for Sunday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Raceway in Sanoma, California. McMurray posted a track record with a time of 74.354 seconds (96.350 mph). Next to him on the front row will be Chevy`s AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Kingsford/Clorox Chevrolet SS. McMurray is 20th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)

Start the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.




© 1999 - 2014 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.