Indy Family Affair for Menard

Paul and John Menard

Paul and John Menard celebrate the Indianapolis win. (Photo: Getty Images)

Paul Menard’s Brickyard 400 win Sunday ended his family’s agonizing quest for success at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

For more than three decades, Menard’s father John had tried to win the Indianapolis 500 as both a sponsor and a car owner. Even with a laundry list of drivers with impeccable records and names like Scott Brayton, Johnny Rutherford and Tony Stewart wheeling his cars, Menard never tasted victory at Indy.

Until Sunday when his trip to Victory Lane came courtesy of his son.

“This is just great,” said John on Sunday. “I mean, it was Paul's day. But in a way, our whole family has been at the Speedway for so long. We all tried very hard.”

In John’s mind Paul being a racecar driver was something that was pre-determined at an early age.

“Paul came down here as a very little guy,” John said. “I remember smuggling him into the garage because he was too young to be in there. He would be sitting on the workbench back there behaving himself. He had to be quiet or the yellow shirts would throw him out. He was there, always interested.

:He wanted to be a racecar driver. You know, I'm just a proud father right now. I just have kind of elapsed back to him, of thinking of him as my little boy, but he's a full grown man, one I'm very, very proud of.”

For Paul, winning his first Sprint Cup Series race was a dream come true. But to do it at Indianapolis with his father looking on made the experience even more special and one that he’ll never forget.

“I saw my dad as soon as we pulled into Victory Lane,” Paul said. “He came up to the window, said something like, 35 years of trying here, here we go, this one's for you. Definitely for him. He's been trying to put a lot of time and energy into winning at Indy. It's just a big deal.

“Man, I've been coming here for a long, long time, but not nearly as long as my dad. To be the first one after all those years of trying to win him a race at Indy, very special. 1989, I think was my first year here. Spent 14, 15 years in a row just hanging out in the infield being a fan. 2007, I got to race here. It was definitely the highlight of my career up until that point. Here we are in Victory Lane. It's unbelievable.”

To some its unbelievable Menard is still in the sport let alone a Sprint Cup race winner. Over the years Paul has had more than his share of detractors claiming his pre-packaged sponsorship from the family’s home improvement store chain was the only reason he was a NASCAR driver.

Sunday’s win provided Menard vindication on that subject.

“I mean, we're winners in Sprint Cup,” he said. “That's the big deal. To do it at Indy, even bigger deal. Can't change people's opinions. They're going to say what they want to say. That's fine with me. We'll celebrate this. We'll enjoy it. We're going to work hard for Pocono, try to make the Chase.

“Whatever they say, they say. Can't control it. I know what I'm capable of. I have total belief in (team owner) Richard Childress, (crew chief) Slugger (Labbe) and everybody. I think we can win a couple more.”

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup

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