Newman comes home to win Brickyard
INDIANAPOLIS -- Pole-sitter Ryan Newman took advantage of a fast pit stop with 25 laps remaining to overtake Jimmie Johnson and win the 20th Brickyard 400 on Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Johnson had the dominant car for much of the day and was able to run faster and longer during green-flag racing. That, combined with quick work by his pit crew, had enabled him to stay ahead of cars on the same lap that had not pitted.
But Johnson's 17.2-second pit stop under green, considered slow by NASCAR standards, did him in. Newman's last stop was 11 seconds and it allowed him to build a seven-second lead on Johnson with 23 laps remaining.
Johnson, in search of a record fifth win in the race, was able to cut the gap but came no closer than 2.658 seconds on the final lap.
Kasey Kahne finished third and Tony Stewart, Newman's car owner, took fourth.
Newman, 35, grabbed the pole from Johnson on Saturday's final qualifying run and then led the first 29 laps of the race before pitting. Johnson assumed the lead and held it most of the way until his pit crew took about four seconds longer than normal to make a four-tire swap.
Newman, who pitted on the next lap, was faster and moved ahead of Johnson. Once the rest of the field pitted, Newman was in the lead.
Newman, born in South Bend, Ind., is the first Indiana native to win the Brickyard.
"It's a dream come true," Newman said in victory lane. "It'll take a week or so for this to set in."
Johnson was ahead for most of the second half of the race but came up short of a record-setting fifth victory in the 400. Car owner Rick Hendrick also missed out on a shot at his ninth win at Indianapolis.
Newman drives for Stewart-Haas Racing, but Stewart announced two weeks ago that he is dropping Newman next year.
Jeff Gordon, the other four-time Brickyard winner in the field, twice had the lead briefly during pit stops but eventually fell back.
"I don't think we're as good as I thought we were," Gordon radioed his crew, wondering if there was paper blocking his grill. A pit stop dropped him to the middle of the pack.
Danica Patrick, who rose to prominence in the Indianapolis 500, started 33rd and stayed in that neighborhood most of the day. She fell a lap down midway through the race when oil smoke spewed from her Chevrolet.