Indianapolis, IN- It’s been a long time coming for South Bend, Indiana’s Ryan Newman.
After almost five years of disappointment at Stewart/Haas Racing, team owner Tony Stewart decided to part ways with Newman at the end of the 2013 season and bring in Kevin Harvick as the replacement. That announcement was made just over two weeks ago.
Now Newman is a pole sitter, track record holder and champion at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Newman set the track record in dramatic fashion Saturday afternoon as the last qualifier of the day knocking off four-time Brickyard 400 winner Jimmie Johnson.
It went the same way Sunday afternoon as Newman used a late pit call by his crew chief Matt Borland to take 2-tires and capitalized on a slow Johnson pit stop to get enough of a lead en route to his first Indy victory and first win since Martinsville in April of 2012.
“This is a dream come true to me,” said the Brickyard 400 champion. “I knew we had a good car. Just an awesome day for us. It will take a week or so for this to set in.”
It was also the third time in Brickyard 400 history that the pole winner went on to win the race.
Prior to the slow final stop Johnson was well on his way to a record-setting fifth win at Indianapolis. On Lap 133 Johnson came down pit road for the final time which turned into his demise. Prior to that stop, Johnson led 73 of the 132 Laps. He had stops of 12.5 and 12.4 seconds respectively prior to the 17 second stop that cost him the win.
Newman pitted the next lap and his crew chief wanted to maximize the track position by taking two tires to put him even further ahead of Johnson when he came out. That worked to perfection.
“With us pitting before the 39 it made it easier for them to take two,” said five-time Sprint Cup champion Johnson. “We win as a team and lose as a team. There’s definitely disappointment there.”
“Happy it stayed green,” said Newman regarding the final run after the pit stops. “We needed that. We had a great long-run car.”
Johnson earned his sixth top 10 finish in 12 starts at Indy and his 14th top 10 of the 2013 season. He’s now extended his points lead over second place by 75 points.
Kasey Kahne had a solid day in his No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet coming home third while Stewart and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top five.
The race today only had three yellows for 14 laps as Timmy Hill brought out two of the cautions with fuel problems. The other caution came when Jeff Burton blew a right rear gear and came in the pits slow.
It was a record setting race at Indy. As I said earlier, the track record speed was set on Saturday, but also the Nationwide race was the quickest with the fastest average speed on Saturday afternoon. Today, the race set a record for all 43 drivers finishing the race and the fastest race in Brickyard 400 history at 2 hours, 36 minutes and 22 seconds.
Eric Smith is the Lead Motorsports Writer for Race Review Online. Follow him on Twitter @ericsportsguru
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