There’s no place like home, and Indiana native Ryan Newman celebrated that well-regarded sentiment by winning the 20th annual Brickyard 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, his first at the historic 2.5-mile oval.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Newman, the third driver to win the Brickyard 400 from the pole, joining Kevin Harvick (2003) and Jimmie Johnson (2008). “I don’t think that, if it hits you all at once, it’s not good enough. It will take a week or so for this to set in. Just thank everybody for this opportunity, everybody in my racing career.
This is just like when I won the Daytona 500. Everybody who helped me get to that day, same thing again – thank you. I’m just so appreciative for all these guys. They work so hard. We struggled on and off this year, but just a great run today.”
Although the South Bend, Ind.-native and Purdue University graduate started from the pole, it was driver Jimmie Johnson who nearly stole the show as he led a race-high 73 laps, looking virtually unstoppable in the process. While Johnson showed the brawn, however, Newman and the No. 39 Chevrolet team provided the brain, taking advantage of late-race pit strategy.
Crew chief Matt Borland called for just a two-tire change during the last round of green-flag pit stops while the majority of the field, including Johnson, elected to take four. The call placed Newman in the lead with less than 20 laps to go and the Hoosier never looked back.
It was the 19th point-paying Sprint Cup win for SHR since its inception in 2009 and its second this season. Tony Stewart won June 2 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.
“This is awesome,” Newman said. “I’ve only had so many opportunities. It’s not like we come here twice a year. The Quicken Loans Chevrolet was amazing today – the best car I have probably ever driven in my career. It takes that here at Indy. You have to have a good car. Matt (Borland) did an awesome job calling the shots and taking the two tires and getting us the track position. We needed that.”
Newman’s victory is also a win for five lucky race fans courtesy of the Quicken Loans’ season-long “Bring It Home” promotion. Five fans who have already registered will get their mortgages paid for a month as a result of Newman’s top-five finish. Fans can register for future races by visiting www.qlracing.com.
Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished fourth. It was Stewart’s seventh top-five and 11th top-10 in 15 career Sprint Cup starts at Indianapolis. It was also his fifth top-five and seventh top-10 this season.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 30th in her first Sprint Cup start at Indianapolis.
Johnson finished 2.657 seconds behind Newman in the runner-up spot while Kasey Kahne, Stewart and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top-five. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano, Juan Pablo Montoya and Kyle Busch comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were three caution periods for a total of 14 laps with all 43 cars running at the finish of the 160-lap race.
With round 20 of 36 complete, Stewart continues to lead the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He moved up two spots to 11th and has 558 points, 182 back of series leader Johnson and just one point behind 10th-place Gordon.
By virtue of his victory, Newman gained three spots and sits 16th with 534 points, 206 out of first and 25 behind Gordon. Patrick gained one spot and sits 26th in the standings with 364 points, 376 behind Johnson and 195 away from 10th.
Six races remain before the 12-driver, 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup begins Sept. 15 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. Only the top-10 in points are locked into the Chase.
Positions 11 and 12 in the Chase are wild cards, awarded to the two drivers between 11th and 20th in points with the most wins. In the event of multiple drivers having the same number of wins, a driver’s point standing serves as the tiebreaker.
Stewart, Martin Truex Jr., and Newman are the only drivers between 11th and 20th in points with a victory. Since Stewart and Truex sit 11th and 12th in the standings, respectively, they hold the first and second wild-card spots.
Patrick, who is competing for Rookie of the Year honors against Ricky Stenhouse Jr., finished five spots behind Stenhouse, who placed 25th.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the GoBowling.com 400 Sunday, Aug. 4 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. The race starts at 1 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with its pre-race show at noon.