Indianapolis, Ind. – Indiana native Ryan Newman scored the biggest victory of his career in winning the 20th running of the Crown Royal Presents the Samuel Deeds 400 at The Brickyard.
His margin of victory over runner-up Jimmie Johnson was 2.6 seconds.
Newman’s team made the winning move on his last pit stop when they changed two tires while Johnson’s team changed four. The difference in time propelled Newman into the eventual lead after the other cars that hadn’t pitted did so.
The victor drove the Quicken Loans/The Smurfs Chevrolet fielded by Stewart-Haas Racing. And he won for the 17th time in 424 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. This is his first victory and third top-10 finish in 13 races at Indianapolis. He joined Kevin Harvick and Johnson as the third driver to win the coveted race from the pole spot, and he became the second Hoosier to win the race. Team co-owner Tony Stewart has won the race twice.
“This is a dream come true, and it is an amazing feeling,” the winner said. “I knew we had a good car. Starting on the pole and winning is awesome, and I can’t wait to kiss the bricks. It will take a week or so for this to set in. Just a great run today, and I am happy it stayed green. We needed that as I had a great long-run car. My Hendrick engine made the difference.
“Actually, I was more emotional yesterday after getting the pole than I was today. I’m not sure why, but that’s the way it was. I sat back and watched today, to see who I was racing with. I was sort of playing the old David Pearson role, as I knew I had a really good car, possibly the best car I’ve ever had in a race. And I didn’t want to have a really good car and not win the race.
“Matt (Borland) made the right call to give me the track position that I needed. At the end, I was just counting down laps from that point on as I knew a lot of guys had to pit. I knew I would then be the leader, but I didn’t know how far back Jimmie was. But his car was looking looser and looser, so it turned out to be an exciting day.”
Winning crew chief Matt Borland said, “It is a great feeling for us. I am happiest for Ryan and his family. To win at Indianapolis is such a big deal and we haven’t been in victory lane in a long time. And it is a great feeling for us.”
Regarding the call for changing just two tires, Borland added, “We talked a little bit about it before the race and we made the decision in the second to last pit stop. Whatever happened to the other team didn’t influence us. And we knew we had to do something to win the race.”
Johnson held command much of the race but wasn’t able to score a fifth Brickyard victory. He finished a disappointing second in the Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet. He led 73 laps to 45 for Newman.
Said Johnson, “There’s definitely disappointment here, but that’s racing – it happens. I’ve given away a few out there this year, too. Ryan (Newman) was fast out there; I can’t take anything away from him. He was plenty fast.
“My car wasn’t the easiest one to drive. I was real tight in and loose off. In traffic, it was a little tougher than I wanted, but it was still an awesome race car. I just came up a little short today.
Regarding the uncharacteristically slow final pit stop, Johnson added, “We had a little problem with the stop.”
Kasey Kahne took third followed by Stewart.
Kahne commented, “We kept falling back too far, and I takes a while to get back up front. Ryan deserved the win; he needed it.”
Asked what he would have done differently, he said, “I think we’d start with the car a little bit different. I really struggled behind cars early in the race.”
Said Stewart about the victory, “What a dream (win) for us. I’ve been waiting for the day when we could get Ryan (Newman) into victory lane, and I can’t wait to give him a hug. I knew it was between him and the No. 48 (Johnson); that was clear to see. I didn’t know what the strategy was going to be at the end. I just kept watching the Jumbotrons to see where he was at.”
Matt Kenseth got fifth place.
Sixth through 10th were Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano, Juan Pablo Montoya and Kyle Busch.
Seven of the top-10 finishers were using Hendrick Motorsport engines.
Three caution flags slowed the race for harmless matters.
In the point standings, Johnson increased his lead margin to 75 over Clint Bowyer, who has 665 points. Carl Edwards sits in third with 655, Harvick is fourth with 648 followed by Earnhardt at 616, Kenseth at 615, Kyle Busch 610 and Greg Biffle 565.
The wild-card standings show Stewart in 11th, Martin Truex Jr. 12th, Newman 13th and Brad Keselowski 14th.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to the Pocono Raceway next weekend for the GoBowling400.com.