In a season of improbable first-time winners in NASCAR’s biggest races, Paul Menard stretched his fuel mileage and held off charging Jeff Gordon to win Sunday’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The victory was Menard’s first as a Sprint Cup driver, and it catapulted him into the conversation for a wild-card berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Gordon, who closed rapidly over the final five laps, crossed the finish line .725 seconds behind the season’s fourth first-time winner.
Regan Smith, who notched his first career win in the Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington, came home third, followed by Jamie McMurray, last year’s Brickyard winner. Matt Kenseth ran fifth, and Tony Stewart salvaged a sixth-place result despite a litany of problems throughout the race.
Greg Biffle, Mark Martin, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch completed the top 10.