Willwerth: NASCAR Notebook

Paul Menard is certainly a NASCAR name that one needs to know!

By Brian Willwerth 

The list of first-time winners in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series just keeps growing.

The latest: Paul Menard, who pulled off a big upset Sunday in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This was Menard’s first win in 167 career starts.  He is the fourth driver this season to win his first Cup race, joining Trevor Bayne, Regan Smith and David Ragan.

This one was decided by pit and fuel strategy. Menard played his cards perfectly, and was able to hold off a fast-charging Jeff Gordon in the closing laps. Had the race been two or three laps longer, the outcome probably would’ve been different.

Gordon finished second, followed by Smith, Jamie McMurray and Matt Kenseth.  Chevrolets took the top four spots.

Carl Edwards hung on the points lead, despite finishing 14th. Menard jumped five spots in the standings, to 14th. Win Sunday’s win, he’s in contention for one of the two wild card spots for the Chase.


This was a clean race for the most part, with one exception. Landon Cassill went for a spin, as he was four-wide heading into Turn 3.  Cassill spun out. Kasey Kahne avoided the wreck, but briefly turned his #4 car into a lawnmower, as grass ended up all over the racetrack.

NEXT WEEK: the second race of the year at Pocono.  Gordon won there back in June.

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