2011-08-04 / Sports

Menard Shines, Kisses Indy Bricks

By Gerald Hodges

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Paul Menard and his team played the fuel game perfectly to win Sunday’s Brickyard 400 as Menard added his name to the list of first time NASCAR Cup series winners.

“I’ve been coming here since I was a kid,” said Menard. “I’ve been dreaming of winning here for 35 years. There’s a lot of emotions in me right now because I just won at the greatest track in the world.”

Menard had passed Jamie McMurray for the lead late in the race, but his team told him to conserve fuel, so he dropped back to second and drafted behind McMurray for several laps. A few laps later, his team radioed that a hard- charging Jeff Gordon was on the move.

Menard put the gas pedal to the floor, passed Mc- Murray for the lead with four-to-go in the 160-lap race, and made it to the finish line about 50 years ahead of Gordon, who finished second.

Menard’s win moved him up five spots, to 14th, in the Race for the Chase.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Gordon. “We checked our fuel mileage, than ran as fast as I could. We needed a couple more laps.

“I’ve got to congratulate Paul. There’s not a nicer driver in racing.”

Regan Smith was able to get around McMurray for third.

“We started 27th, so it was a good day for us,” he said. “We had about a 10th-place car. I kept wondering there at the end if Paul would run out of fuel, but after Jeff got by, I knew it was all over for us.”

Jamie McMurray, Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Mark Martin, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch were the remaining top-10 finishers.

Jeff Gordon led the most laps.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 16th and dropped one spot in the Chase from ninth to 10th.

Polesitter David Ragan ended up 23rd.

Top-12 Chase contenders after 20 of 36: 1. Edwards- 682, 2. Johnson-671, 3. Harvick 670, 4. Kyle Busch-666, 5. Kenseth-666, 6. Kurt Busch- 664, 7. J. Gordon-630, 8. Newman 618, 9. Stewart-609, 10. Earnhardt-606, 11. Hamlin- 587, 12. Bowyer-574

Keselowski rallies for Nationwide win

Brad Keselowski jumped ahead of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on a green-white-checkered restart and cruised to a .987-second victory in Saturday night’s Nationwide race at Lucas Oil Raceway Park. The race went four laps beyond its scheduled 200 after a series of late wrecks.

“It’s a very special win being from Michigan,” Keselowski said. “I’ve been coming to this racetrack for years. I’ve been to victory lane as a team guy and a mechanic but never a driver. It’s so special to win here and win here in a Dodge.”

The battle for second place was so close that NASCAR officials had to review video. Several minutes after the race ended, second place was taken from Stenhouse and given to James Buescher.

Aric Almirola, Carl Edwards, Jason Leffler, Joe Nemechek, Drew Herring, Reed Sorenson and Michael Mc- Dowell were the remaining top-10 finishers.

Top-10 Nationwide leaders after 21 of 34: 1. Stenhouse 740, 2. Sorenson-737, 3. Sadler-716, 4. Allgaier-689, 5. Almirola-671, 6. Leffler-646, 7. K. Wallace-637, 8. S. Wallace 572, 9. Scott-566, 10. Annett 565

Top-10 Camping World truck leaders after 12 of 24: 1. J. Sauter-453, 2. A. Dillon- 449, 3. J. Buescher-433, 4. T. Peters-431, 5. C. Whitt-424, 6. M. Crafton-415, 7. P. Kligerman 407, 8. J. Coulter-403, 9. R. Hornaday-401, 10. T. Bodine 383

Breakfast in Indianapolis

I went down for breakfast from my room at the Marriott Hotel as I prepared to leave for Sunday’s Brickyard 400. I stay at the Indianapolis Downtown Marriott for two reasons.

First, they don’t raise the weekend room rates like most hotels do when NASCAR comes to town, and secondly, they serve great breakfasts, including grits.

I ordered what I always order – ham, biscuits, grits, two eggs over medium well, strawberry preserves and coffee.

I noticed the waitress did not have the traditional order pad. Instead, she was armed with some type of small computer, similar to a Palm Pilot. No pencil or pen, just a plastic pointer that she kept pecking on the computer’s plastic cover with.

To be sure she understood me I went over my order on how to cook the eggs.

“The white should be completely done, and not oozing around on the plate. Rather than having the yellow runny, it should be like Jell-O.”

“Got it,” she said. “This is what this little baby (computer) is for. It relays the message to the big computer, which puts it up on a giant kitchen screen.”

“We recently modernized our kitchen. Your food will come out quicker, and just as you ordered it.”

Boy isn’t technology wonderful.

When the waitress brought my order, I knew by looking at the eggs they weren’t cooked right. Portions of the white looked slimy, and the yellow had been left on the heat too long.

“These eggs aren’t what I ordered,” I said.

The waitress was very pleasant and apologetic.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I punched in the cooking descriptions exactly as you told me. I’ll take them back and personally relay your instructions to our chef.”

Could the computer have made a mistake?

In a few minutes she returned with my eggs and this time they were cooked exactly the way I like them.

The breakfast turned out to be great, but that is not the point of this story. The point is I do not want computers involved with things I eat.

It seems like computers are creeping into our lives more and more. What is going to happen to the old style of ordering, when waitresses quit shouting order’s back to the cooks, like they do at a Waffle House?

Computers have caused me problems at the airport, with my telephone bill and just recently with my wife’s car. A loose ground wire in the car’s dash caused the dashboard to light up like a Christmas tree. The cost to find and tighten one loose screw was nearly $800, with no guarantee that it will not happen again.

“How was your meal,” the cashier asked as I went to pay my ticket.

“The computer messed up on my eggs,” I said.

“We’ve been having some problems with it,” she replied. “Yesterday it ordered a 24-ounce T-bone, with baked potato and salad, and then took an hour off for lunch.”

My day went a lot better after hearing that.

Weekend racing: It’s on to Poconos 2.5-mile tri-oval for the Sprint Cup and Camping World teams, while the Nationwide series travels to the .875-mile oval Iowa Speedway.

Sat., Aug. 6, Camping World Good Sam 125, race 13 of 24, Starting time: 1 p.m.; TV: Speed.

Sat., Aug. 6, Nationwide U.S. Cellular 250, race 22 of 34, Starting time; 7: 30 p. m.; TV: ESPN2.

Sat., Aug. 7, Sprint Cup Good Sam 500, race 21 of 36, Starting time: 1 p.m.; TV: ESPN.

Racing trivia question: What are the names of Richard Childress’s two grandsons who are starting to make a name for themselves in racing?

Last week’s question: Who is Kasey Kahne’s teammate at Red Bull Racing? Answer. It is Brian Vickers.

Contact the Racing Reporter online at hodges@race500.com.

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