Paul Menard woke up with a sore throat on the day of the Brickyard 400 and figured he might have the start of a cold. But if ever had any thoughts of fighting it off, that idea disappeared after a week of celebrations, travel and interviews.
So it was no wonder, then, that Menard showed up at Pocono Raceway on Friday still sounding a bit hoarse and under the weather after a whirlwind week.
But that's OK. He's a Brickyard 400 champion.
"On my cell phone, I have a picture of us in Victory Lane," he said. "It'll probably be there for the rest of my life."
Here's a quick recap of Menard's week:
Sunday: Menard wins the Brickyard 400, his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory.
Monday: Menard hops a 5:30 a.m. flight to ESPN's studios in Bristol, Conn. He spends the day making various stops around ESPN and getting a tour of the campus, which he called "pretty cool, as a lifelong sports fan." After returning home on Monday night, he finally had some time to himself to relax with an adult beverage and "enjoy the moment."
Tuesday: Menard heads to a workout with his trainer, then has more interviews, including a couple Speed channel shows.
Wednesday: Menard visits Richard Childress Racing and takes his team out for a celebratory lunch, then stops by Kevin Harvick Inc. (where he runs Nationwide Series cars on occasion).
Thursday: Menard travels to Pocono.
Clearly, there wasn't much time for too much celebration before Pocono weekend arrived. But Menard said there are several memories he'll cherish.
Among them were the moment when his father, John, told him "I'm proud of you, son" and gave him a bear hug in Victory Lane.
Jeff Gordon's visit to the winner's circle was a highlight, too, and Menard said that of all the text messages he received from fellow drivers, the ones from former Indianapolis 500 winners Buddy Rice and Eddie Cheever meant the most.
Menard, of course, hopes for more celebrations soon. He said there's a good chance he'll have a strong day at Pocono – where teams set up their cars in a similar fashion to Indianapolis – and solidify his position as a Chase wild card contender.
Looking out from his perch on the media center stage, he told reporters, "We're going to try to be here every week."