Paul Menard runs lean to take maiden NASCAR win at Indianapolis

Paul Menard claimed his maiden NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win by edging Jeff Gordon after a fuel-saving run to the chequered flag at Indianapolis

Paul Menard runs lean to take maiden NASCAR win at Indianapolis

The Richard Childress Racing driver bounced back from a pit road penalty early on to be in position to battle for victory when fuel strategy came into play.

When the fifth caution of the day came out for an incident ignited by contact between polesitter David Ragan and Landon Cassill, Menard was among a number of cars to pit for fuel and tyres. Right before the green waved they pitted again to top-up with gas, hoping some caution laps later on would allow them to drive to the end.

However the race went caution-free, forcing Menard and others behind to ease off the throttle in order to make their gamble pay off. Most of the top runners of the day pitted for the last time shortly after the green waved, allowing Menard to eventually grab the lead 13 laps from the end.

Behind him Earnhardt Ganassi's Jamie McMurray tried to time his attack and although he would briefly jump ahead, he then had to relinquish his lead as he feared his fuel tank would run completely empty.

Hendrick Motorsports' Jeff Gordon was the car once he had jumped into the lead following the first caution and having pitted for the last time following the last restart, he was on a mission to grab his fifth Brickyard win as he closed on the leaders with the lap count fading rapidly.

Menard was lapping close to two seconds per lap slower than Gordon before being told by his crew chief 'Slugger' Labbe to go for the win. Despite catching some traffic on the penultimate lap he upped his pace enough to keep Gordon at bay and win his first NASCAR race in his 341st start, his 167th in Cup.

Gordon finished a disappointed second, ahead of Furniture Row's Regan Smith, who also succeeded at saving enough fuel to make it to lap 160. McMurray coasted to fourth in the end while Roush Fenway's Matt Kenseth rounded out the top five.

Tony Stewart led the race briefly before his final stop and finished sixth in the end, recovering from contact with the wall early on and a run-in with Kyle Busch in the pits.

Red Bull's Kasey Kahne led the most laps and looked in a different league in clean air ahead, but was unable to move back to the front following a delayed first stop and front-end damage while trying to avoid the Cassill-Ragan incident.

Pre-race favourite Juan Pablo Montoya looked like he could contend for victory but his strategy did not play out as expected in the end and he finished 28th.

Carl Edwards finished 14th but continues to lead the standings ahead of Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson.

Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet 2h50m30.000s 2. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet + 0.725s 3. Regan Smith Furniture Row Chevrolet + 6.687s 4. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet + 7.176s 5. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Ford + 7.342s 6. Tony Stewart Stewart Haas Chevrolet + 8.585s 7. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford + 9.123s 8. Mark Martin Hendrick Chevrolet + 9.153s 9. Brad Keselowski Penske Dodge + 10.672s 10. Kyle Busch Gibbs Toyota + 13.016s 11. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet + 14.796s 12. Ryan Newman Stewart Haas Chevrolet + 15.190s 13. Clint Bowyer Childress Chevrolet + 16.035s 14. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford + 17.194s 15. Brian Vickers Red Bull Toyota + 18.010s 16. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet + 18.417s 17. Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota + 18.608s 18. Kasey Kahne Red Bull Toyota + 18.943s 19. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet + 19.251s 20. Landon Cassill Phoenix Chevrolet + 19.888s 21. Kurt Busch Penske Dodge + 22.465s 22. AJ Allmendinger Petty Ford + 22.929s 23. David Ragan Roush Fenway Ford + 23.485s 24. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota + 24.090s 25. Joey Logano Gibbs Toyota + 24.261s 26. Andy Lally TRG Chevrolet + 24.333s 27. Denny Hamlin Gibbs Toyota + 25.338s 28. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet + 27.940s 29. Casey Mears Germain Toyota + 29.636s 30. Trevor Bayne Wood Brothers Ford + 37.030s 31. Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet + 38.744s 32. Mike Bliss FAS Lane Ford + 1 lap 33. David Gilliland Front Row Ford + 3 laps 34. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford + 3 laps Retirements: Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet 153 laps David Reutimann Waltrip Toyota 49 laps Michael McDowell HP Toyota 23 laps Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 19 laps Scott Speed Max Q Ford 19 laps Mike Skinner Germain Toyota 16 laps Terry Labonte FAS Lane Ford 15 laps TJ Bell LTD Chevrolet 10 laps Robby Gordon Gordon Dodge 5 laps 
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