DREAM COMES TRUE FOR RYAN NEWMAN
Ryan Newman joins Tony Stewart as the only Indiana natives to win in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the Brickyard. Newman currently drives for Stewart at Stewart-Haas Racing, although he was told two weeks ago he will be replaced by Kevin Harvick in 2014 (photo courtesy: Justin Edmonds, GETTY IMAGES SPORT).
Ryan Newman joined his team owner, Tony Stewart, as the only Indiana natives to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, holding off Jimmie Johnson.
Newman, from South Bend, Indiana, beat five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Johnson to the finish by 2.657 seconds. Newman became just the third driver to win from the pole in the race's 20-year history, joining Kevin Harvick (2003) and Johnson (2008).
"This is a dream come true for me," Newman said. "I can't wait to push my lips on those bricks. I don't realize it yet. It's a dream come true. It will take a week or so for this to set in. Just a great run today. We needed this."
Newman led four times for 45 laps and took the lead for good on Lap 149 of the 160-lap race when leader Brad Keselowski made his final pit stop.
But the groundwork for Newman's victory was created on his final pit stop on Lap 134. His Stewart-Haas Racing pit crew completed service in just 11 seconds, while Johnson's final stop on Lap 133 took 18 seconds due to a slow right-rear tire change. That helped Newman erase a 1.675-second gap to Johnson.
"There's definitely disappointment there," Johnson said of his final pit stop. "But that's racing - it happens. I've given away a few out there this year, too. Ryan was fast all day long. I can't take anything away from him. He was plenty fast."
Johnson finished second in the crash-free race at the Brickyard and now holds a 75-point lead over Clint Bowyer in the championship point. Just six races remain before the post-season Chase For The NASCAR Sprint Cup begins. The Chase will consist of the Top 10 drivers in points plus the two drivers from 11th to 20th with the most wins after Race 26. The Chase For The NASCAR Sprint Cup will culminate at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 17.
After a tough first half of the season, Newman gained three spots in the standings, to 16th, with time running out to make the Chase. More importantly, the win put him in contention for a Chase wild card. The Chase will consist of the Top 10 drivers in points plus the two drivers from 11th to 20th with the most wins after Race 26. The Chase For The NASCAR Sprint Cup will culminate at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 17.
Newman was told two weeks ago that he won’t return to Stewart-Haas Racing next season. The win could make Newman awfully attractive to prospective teams and sponsors. He was one of several drivers who helped themselves with strong runs at Indy. Dale Earnhardt Jr. started the Brickyard 400 with a loose wheel and had to pit just a few laps into one of the biggest races of the season.
But considering the news Earnhardt received earlier in the day, he kept it all in perspective.
Earnhardt came back from that loose wheel to finish sixth on a day when he carried a heavy heart as his uncle, Randy, died early Sunday morning in North Carolina.
For Earnhardt, it was a respectable finish on a day that started on such a sad note. His uncle was 60 years old and had been battling cancer for about a year.
Earnhardt remembered the impact of his uncle on Dale Earnhardt Inc., where he had worked for decades.
“He kept things together,” Earnhardt said. “He was in charge of a lot of different things and mainly was in charge of where every part and every nut and bolt was, being accountable for everything.
“He was an awesome dude, such an awesome guy. … It’s just tough. It’s part of life and it’s hard to get used to. I’m just glad that his suffering was over with. He was having a real hard time. I loved him dearly and will miss him a lot.”
Next up for the Sprint Cup drivers is Pocono on Sunday, August 4 (1 p.m. EDT, ESPN, Sirius NASCAR Radio Channel 90)—Race 21 of 36 en route to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 15-17). The Chase will consist of the Top 10 drivers in points plus the two drivers from 11th to 20th with the most wins after Race 26. The Chase For The NASCAR Sprint Cup will culminate at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 17.