INDIANAPOLIS --- John Menard tried unsuccessfully for 35 years to win the Indianapolis 500 as a car owner. On Sunday, his son gave him something exceptional -- a win in the Brickyard 400.
Paul Menard, who first came to Indianapolis Motor Speedway with his family when he was 3, patiently stretched his final tank of gas for 35 laps to beat Jeff Gordon for his first Sprint Cup Series win.
His voiced cracked and he choked back tears after climbing out of his car -- which carried sponsorship from the Menard family's chain of home improvement warehouses.
"This is just a really special place for my family and myself," Paul Menard said. "Indianapolis, this is the greatest race track in the world. We've got the best fans here, too."
Twenty-seven different drivers worked for John Menard during a 35-year stretch in IndyCar racing. Years of frustration at Indianapolis were suddenly replaced by a greater sense of accomplishment.
"I've been waiting to kiss these bricks for such a long time," John Menard said.
Paul Menard gained track position in the final 35 laps by not coming to pit road for a splash of gas.
Gordon stopped to make sure he had enough gas, going from the lead to a quarter-lap deficit. The leaders were forced to slow down to save every drop; Gordon was on a relentless charge that ended seven car lengths short of the winner.
"There were some guys that were going to try to stretch it on fuel and all I could do is run as hard as I could to put pressure on them and hope that I got there in time," Gordon said. "We got there just a little bit short."
Reach Don Coble at email@example.com.