Paul Menard's victory in the Brickyard 400 on Sunday was extremely well-received in the NASCAR garage, as several competitors went way out of their way to praise Menard's character and express their happiness to see the Richard Childress Racing driver in Victory Circle.
"Paul's been around this place for a long time – he's been here since he was a kid," Tony Stewart said. "It couldn't have happened to a better guy; that is a pretty deserving win right there. I'm happy for him getting his first one that way."
Regan Smith, who called Menard one of his closest friends in NASCAR, knew how much it meant to see the No. 27 car cross the finish line first.
"He always talks about coming up here," Smith said. "He always talks about how much he loves this place. I know if you had to highlight one race to get his first win, I'm sure he'll tell you in a minute he couldn't be happier (to do it at Indy)."
Jeff Gordon finished second to Menard but went to Victory Circle to congratulate the race winner. He said Menard seemed to be "in awe" of what had just happened.
"His eyes, he's like a deer in the headlights," Gordon said. "I"m so happy for him; I think a lot of people are. It's one thing to get your first win here, but it's another when you can appreciate how special it is to win here. Paul certainly has that."
Other drivers were similarly happy for the soft-spoken Wisconsin native. Carl Edwards said he "couldn't think of a better person" to win the Brickyard 400 if Edwards himself couldn't do it, and said Menard was a "great race driver (and) a better person."
Mark Martin said he was "really, really, really happy" for Menard, and even Matt Kenseth – who was "irritated" that Menard forced him down the track on the restart – said "I'm so happy for Paul Menard."
"It's not like Paul runs around 25th every week and lucked into the (win)," Kenseth said. "Paul's been running good all year. You knew it was a matter of time before they got a win, so it was pretty cool for him to be able to win the Brickyard."
Joey Logano said he wasn't thrilled with how the race ended, though his comments weren't directed at Menard personally.
"It's frustrating getting the car better and being better than then having a fuel-mileage race," Logano said. "Seemse like anyone can win these things these days. You have to get lucky these days more than anything."