Paul Menard celebrates his victory at Indianpolis with the customary "kissing of the bricks" at the finish line (Getty Images)
It was the dream of a lifetime. Paul Menard won his first career Sprint Cup race and kissed the bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He saved enough fuel to hold off Jeff Gordon in the closing laps to win one of the most prestigious races of the season -- the Brickyard 400. It came in his very first race at Indy and he becomes the fourth first-time winner in the series this season joining Trevor Bayne (Daytona 500), Regan Smith (Darlington) and David Ragan (Daytona July race).
Paul Menard's father, businessman John Menard, has sponsored a number of teams over the years at Indy in both the Indy 500 and Brickyard 400, but with his son driving, finally came away a winner.
Defending race winner Jamie McMurray had the lead in the late stages of the race, but Menard passed him with four laps to go and finished nearly three quarters of a second ahead of Jeff Gordon. Gordon has already won four times at Indy and with a fifth would join Formula One legend Michael Schumacher for most victories at the track.
Pole sitter Ragan Smith came in third with McMurray ending up with a season-best fourth-place run and Matt Kenseth completing the top-five.
Kasey Kahne led 47 of the first 51 laps, but ended up finishing 18th after a crash with Landon Cassill late in the race.
Carl Edwards came in 14th and held on to his points lead. He leads Jimmie Johnson by 11 points.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 16th and continued to slide in the standings. Earnhardt Jr. has dropped from third to 10th in points since the June 19th race at Michigan.
The season’s second stop at Pocono is up next on the schedule.