“This is the one I wanted to win. My family, my Dad has had IndyCars here since the late 70s, 35 years or so. For 35 years he’s been trying, so giving him his first win here after all those years of trying is pretty special. Can’t wait to kiss the bricks. We’re the inaugural Sprint Summer Shootout winner. That’s cool. Man, it’s Indy.” – _Paul Menard, race winner, on how much it meant for him and his family to win at Indy_
Let this officially be the end of all the talk of Paul Menard, according to detractors, only being in NASCAR on account of his father’s money. The bottom line is Menard did a masterful job of saving fuel and holding off all comers in the closing laps, including a fast-charging Jeff Gordon. To say he “backed into the win” is an erroneous statement. Menard has, in the last two years, put together some of the best results of his career. While he may not be the most popular driver on the circuit in terms of fanbase (although his “Empire”:http://www.facebook.com/paulmenardempire on Facebook is sure to grow substantially after this), this win has been a long time coming for Menard, who is now in position to score a wild-card spot in the Chase.
“It is a huge win for him. I’m happy for Paul, although I was irritated after the race since he ran me off the race track on that restart, but I’m happy he got the win. I wish it wouldn’t have come down to fuel mileage, but I’m glad that he got the win. He’s been running awfully good this year and he deserves a good win.” – _Matt Kenseth, fifth, on Paul Menard winning the Brickyard 400_
It seemed like Matt Kenseth paid race winner Paul Menard a bit of a backhanded compliment post-race, following an incident during the race where Paul sent Matt Kenseth in the grass while trying to protect his position on the track. Kenseth’s verbal dart comes across as a bit of sour grapes. That said? One can’t entirely blame Kenseth for the post-race disgust over having to settle for fifth due to fuel mileage when he had one of the top cars to contend with during the race.
*Most Controversial Quote*
“I don’t care about John Menard, but I am really happy for Paul Menard. Paul’s been around this place for a long time, he’s been here since he was a kid. It couldn’t have happened to a better guy, that is a pretty deserving win right there. I’m happy for him getting his first one that way.” – _Tony Stewart, sixth, on the Menard family’s big day_
Tony Stewart’s bad blood with John Menard dates back to the years Stewart drove for him in the Indy Racing League, and was further elaborated upon in Tony Stewart’s autobiography a few years back. Characteristically, Smoke didn’t pull any punches on his sentiments toward Paul’s father. But, in terms of Tony’s take on Paul, he seems to have softened his stance on Paul Menard after making some harsh comments about Paul in his rookie Cup season. Once again, Tony Stewart gives a brutally honest answer to an honest question and one cannot fault him in the least bit for that.
“Yeah, behind whoever was in front of me [laughs]; as long as he had enough gas! I caught the No. 4 [Kasey Kahne] by a lucky break. He got bound up behind a guy who was running out of fuel and I got a spot there, but otherwise I didn’t go up through there. Some guys did. Now the No. 2 [Keselowski] ran up through there pretty good. I don’t know if he had different tires or put tires on, but some guys were fast enough to get up through there and some of us weren’t.” – _Dale Earnhardt, Jr., 16th_
While 16th place is hardly anything to get excited about, at least Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had a humorous take on where he wound up finishing. Some drivers following their final green flag pit stops were able to regain track position, like Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth. But others, like Earnhardt Jr., were left bogged down mid-pack, spoiling what could have been a potential top-10 finish for Dale Jr. at the Brickyard. Still, in the big picture, he managed to stay in the top-10 in points with just six races to go until the Chase begins.
*Best Of The Rest*
“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.” – _Jeff Gordon, runner-up, on how bad he wanted to win in the closing laps_
“Well, that is the most bittersweet third-place of all time because you can see the leaders. I saw the No. 27 and I knew he was on the same strategy as us and I wanted to go and he went and we decided to pull the reigns back a little bit hoping some more of them would run out of fuel. Then I saw the No. 24 come and I thought, ‘we are in trouble now’ because he doesn’t have to save at all, so that kind of made our decision for us. The bittersweet part is because I’m so happy for Paul Menard down there. I know what this race means to that family and to him in particular. I can’t wait to get to Victory Lane and congratulate him, that’s a really cool deal.” – _Regan Smith, third, on putting his Brickyard 400 race into perspective_
“It was really close. I was confused because initially I thought he said two laps then I thought he said half, I just wanted to know if it was half or two and how much I needed to save. I got by the No. 27 because I wanted to be leading the race. I knew it was going to be easier to defend than it was going to be to try to pass when everyone decided to take off. We got a little bit lucky today, but [I’m] really happy. We’ve had a tough year and a lot of things go wrong and a lot of bad luck and its very nice to have good luck. We had Johnny Morris here form Bass Pro Shops today and the folks from LiftMaster. Had a good Chevy and had a good finish.” – _Jamie McMurray, fourth, on how close he was on fuel_
“The car was tight most of the race; when we put on right-side tires only, that’s when our Shell/Pennzoil Dodge came to life. We lost track position when the 51 [Landon Cassill] crashed and we had to go through the grass. We had to come down pit road three times. The temp was pegged. That put us the last car on the lead lap, but it had us close to our fuel window. Hitting the grass did extensive damage underneath the car and it got tighter and tighter. We were fortunate that we had the fuel to make it to the end, but with the damage, we just couldn’t maintain track position. Our car was good in practice, we qualified well and we were making changes that helped the handling. We didn’t need to get caught up in that mishap.” – _Kurt Busch, 21st_
“We started off terrible — kind of like we expected. I hate that we finished 25th. We got the car pretty good. The guys kept getting the car better. Got to the point that at least we had decent speed in it. We couldn’t make it on fuel — we don’t get good fuel mileage and that’s a problem. That’s what we get for not getting good fuel mileage — we finish 25th. We did a good job getting better, but it’s frustrating — getting the car better and being better and then having a fuel mileage race. Seems like anyone can win these things these days — you have to get lucky these days more than anything.” – _Joey Logano, 25th_
“That was awful. I wish we would have just pitted five laps into the run with everybody else so I didn’t feel so sick to my stomach having to pit there. We had a few times where we had to pit when we didn’t want to with grass getting kicked up into our grille a few times. When you get back in the pack like that, those things are gonna happen. We were just unfortunate to have it happen to us three times and have to pit so many times. It was a hard fought day for a 30th-place finish. It doesn’t feel like that, but we learned a lot. I was glad to be here, but I definitely want to be running better than that.” – _Trevor Bayne, 30th_
“Just a bummer. The motor felt like it misfired a little bit in qualifying and it looks like we may have lost an engine early. I’m not sure what to say. I’m really bummed out. I love racing at Indy. I’m disappointed. This is really going to hurt us in the top-35 in the owner point standings.” – _Robby Gordon, 43rd_
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