Newman outduels Johnson for Brickyard 400 win

Updated: July 29, 2013


Ryan Newman had always dreamed of winning a race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Newman, who grew up roughly 150 miles north of this historic 2.5-mile racetrack, won the Brickyard 400 after benefiting from a two-tire pit stop late in the race and then outrunning Jimmie Johnson in the closing laps.

With 26 laps remaining, Newman pitted for just two new right-side tires. Johnson, who had led 73 of 160 laps, made his last stop one lap before Newman, but the five-time Sprint Cup Series champion and four-time Brickyard 400 winner opted for a four-tire change, which took 17.2 seconds and cost him valuable track position.

After the cycle of green-flag stops was completed with 12 laps to go, Newman grabbed the lead for good, holding a three-second advantage over Johnson at the time. Newman went on to beat Johnson at the finish by 2.7 seconds for his first Brickyard 400 victory in his 13th attempt.

“I don’t realize it yet. It’s a dream come true,” said Newman, who is in his fourth and final season as driver of the No. 39 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing. “If it hits you all at once, then it’s not good enough. It will take a week or so for this to set in…Just a great run today. Happy it stayed green (in the closing laps). We needed that. Jimmie did a good job, and he had a good car.”

Newman became the third driver to win this prestigious 400-mile event at Indy from the pole, joining Kevin Harvick (2003) and Johnson (2008). On Saturday, he won the top starting position with a new track qualifying record. Johnson held the provisional pole until Newman, who was the last driver to qualify in the 45-car field, topped him with a lap at 187.531 mph.

Newman led the first 29 laps before he made his first pit stop.

It was the 17th career Sprint Cup win for Newman but his first since April 2012 at Martinsville (50 races ago).

“Starting on the pole and winning the race is just an awesome day for us,” he said. “(Crew chief) Matt Borland made an awesome call. I’ve won more races with him on old tires, I guess, than I have with four new tires and the best cars.”

Johnson, the current points leader, was attempting to win at Indy for the fifth time and tie Formula One legend Michael Schumacher for most victories at this track. His lead has now stretched to 75 points over Clint Bowyer, who finished 20th.

“It’s definitely a disappointment there,” Johnson said. “But this is racing and stuff happens. We win as a team and lose as a team.”

Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Kasey Kahne, finished third, while Newman’s team owner, Tony Stewart, also an Indiana native, took the fourth spot.

“He did an awesome job all weekend, getting on the pole,” Stewart said. “It was down to him and the 48 car (Johnson). That was easy to see. I didn’t know what the strategy was going to be at the end, and I just kept looking up at the (scoring) board. I was scared to ask where he was at and how big of a lead he had. Finally with three (laps) to go, I couldn’t wait any longer. I asked and wanted to know. I didn’t want to jinx him.”

Matt Kenseth finished fifth, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. bounced back from a one- lap deficit early in the race to finish sixth. Earnhardt had to pit unexpectedly on lap 13 when he experienced a loose wheel. He got back on the lead lap during the first caution, which occurred on lap 60.

This race featured three cautions but none for accidents. Rookie Timmy Hill lost power and slowed on the track on two separate occasions, while Jeff Burton stopped on the backstretch when he suffered a broken rear gear. Both drivers returned later on. All 43 competitors finished the race.

Jeff Gordon was seventh, followed by Joey Logano, Juan Pablo Montoya and Kyle Busch, who started on the pole and won Saturday’s Nationwide Series race here.

Danica Patrick, who is Newman’s teammate at SHR, finished two laps down in 30th in her first Brickyard 400 start.

With the win, Newman moved up three positions to 16th in the point standings. He is presently third in the wild card rankings. Stewart and Martin Truex Jr., who finished 11th, hold the two wild card spots, as six races remain before the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship begins. Stewart won at Dover and Truex scored the victory at Sonoma last month.

“We still have the championship to go after, and we still have the Chase to chase,” Newman said. “There’s still plenty of racing left. It’s a great day for us in points.”