|Paul Menard celebrates at Indy|
"It was a neat day for sure." Slugger Labbe said. "We pitted on lap 35, pit road penalty. Tire changer didn't get the tire back, fell down, penalized us. From this point on we really stretched our fuel. Went 34 laps then to stretch our fuel. Caution came out later. We were fortunate enough to stay out and understand what our car was going to do."
The winning crew chief continued . "Saturday we made a 22-lap run in practice. Knew where we were going to be at with fuel mileage. We knew with 35 it was a gamble we were willing to take. We had a good meeting on Monday, myself, Richie Gilmore and all the guys, and said, Look, guys, if we're going to make the Chase, we're going to have to get risky. Seems to be a trend in the Cup Series, that people take gambles on pit road. It was our turn to get aggressive. I told Paul he had to support me. He supported me a hundred percent today. Three times he had an occasion where he could have said no, I don't want to do that, but he did. Fortunately it worked out."
Second place Jeff Gordon had the car to beat, and just came up a little short. After, he sounded as though he won the race. "It was awesome. What a fun race for us. From the time we got here, probably even prior to getting here, I felt really positive about the effort that was put into our racecar. The guys were really fired up about getting here. But you still never know until you get out there on the track. The first couple laps on that track, it just had that feel, you know, it had a great feel. Struggled a little bit getting ready for qualifying, but qualified better than I thought we would." the four time winner Gordon said.
"When they dropped the green, I knew we had a car that could win this race. It was a lot of fun. Kasey Kahne looked to be one of the best. He had some issues. We got up there and were able to kind of control the race. It was just a lot of fun. It's been a while since we had a car like that here at Indy. Just a flawless effort by the team. The pit stops were fantastic. I thought Alan called a great race. When we came off pit road the last time, we were able to get ahead of Harvick, I thought that was a huge moment for us. That put us in position to win. I knew that shortly after that, 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. We got there just a little bit short. But Paul did a great job saving fuel because when I got there, even Regan and other guys, they were still pretty much checking up when I got there. It was easy to get by them. But Paul had saved enough to where he could go back to a full pace. By that time, my car was just too tight behind him."
"Man, I've been coming here for a long, long time, but not nearly as long as my dad." Paul Menard said. "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."
The race was yet another battle of track position, as whoever was out in front was able to do well in clean air. "When you get back in traffic, it’s tough," said Ryan Newman, who scored his 12th top-15 finish of the season. "We never could get to the front and get clean air. We rallied to finish 12th and that will help us in the points, but I wish we could’ve had a better day with our Haas Automation Chevrolet."
"It's hard to adjust on a car when you’re in the middle of traffic like that,” said Newman's crew chief Tony Gibson. "There’s no air back there. You can over-adjust way too easy, so we just tried to tinker with it. We just knew we were sucking that air and there wasn’t much we could do. The balance was going to change. We just did damage control today. We just tried to finish the best we could without killing ourselves in the points and it worked out well. The No. 14 (Tony Stewart) finished ahead of us and everybody else that we needed to outrun, we did today. That’s what we’ve got to do right now. We’ve got that win, so now we’ve got to just manage our points."
Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR