SPEEDWAY, Ind. (WISH) - Paul Menard got his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win in the 2011 Brickyard 400 Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“I’ve been coming here since I was a little kid. My dad has been coming here for 35 years. This is for my dad,” Menard said.
The 30-year-old told reporters he did not miss a single Indianapolis 500 race from 1989 to 2003.
"I was here for the inaugural Brickyard 400 too," Menard said, "This is the greatest racetrack in the world."
Former Hoosier Jeff Gordon took second place, Regan Smith was third, Jamie McMurray came in fourth and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top five. Hoosier native Tony Stewart finished in 6th place.
Nine cars did not finish the race including Scott Speed. A part-time driver, Speed is no stranger to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He started the month of May employed by Dragon Racing but walked away from the team after being unable to find speed in the IZOD IndyCar Series machine. He qualified 34th for the Brickyard 400 but parked his No. 37 Ford on Lap 19.
Fans battle heat
The temperatures in the stands were even hotter than the competition on the 2.5 mile track. Our crews reported seeing numerous heat-related medic calls and ambulances coming and going for most of the day.
Indiana State Police tweeted locations of cooling stations around the track saying they received lots of calls for “heat related issues.”
Several IndyGo busses were being used as cooling centers inside the track, where fans could go to spend time in air conditioning.
Out in Turn 3, fans traded their t-shirts and shorts for swimsuits and climbed into swimming pools set up especially for the beach bash.
Roughly 350 people were treated by medical staff at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sunday, track spokesman Doug Boles said. He explained that is about an average number for a race this size.
He says a “substantial” amount of the patients were treated for heat related issues.
Boles added that the percentage of alcohol related incidents was lower than in years pas.
Meanwhile, prerace talk among the fans in the grandstands at the starting line and on Twitter centered about how empty the stands were.
“There’s one, two, three people over there,” said one onlooker, “Where’s all the people?”
Speedway officials closed a section of seats ahead of the race and offered to move the fans seated there to other sections in hopes of filling stands on the front stretch.
Despite pictures showing empty seats, the crowd roared above the engine noise as Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the lead.