Ryan Newman held off Jimmie Johnson in the closing stages of the Crown Royal Presents the Samuel Deeds 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sunday. Newman defeated Johnson by over three seconds. It's Newman's 17th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory and his first since April 2012 at Martinsville. Newman, an Indiana native, talked about what winning at the historic racetrack meant to him.
"It hasn't set in yet," Newman said. "If it hits you all at once it's not good enough. It will take about a week to set in. All I know is, I can't wait to kiss those bricks."
Newman got the lead on lap 149 when Brad Keselowski pitted for fuel. Newman was running second on lap 127 when the field began to come down for their final pit stops. Jimmie Johnson led Newman by over two seconds and Johnson stopped on lap 132. His pit crew would have an issue on pit road, as they missed a lugnut on the right rear. It resulted in a 17.2 second pit stop for Johnson. Newman shortly followed Johnson on pit road. Newman and his team gambled by taking two tires. When the pit stops cycled around Newman had a three second advantage over Johnson, who could never chase Newman down.
Johnson finished his bid for a fifth Brickyard 400 victory in the second position. Teammate Kasey Kahne finished third with Tony Stewart finishing in fourth. The first four cars in the finishing order all had Hendrick Motorsports engines and chassis. Newman's win also marked the 11th straight time a Chevrolet has gone to victory lane at Indianapolis. Matt Kenseth rounded out the top five in a Toyota.
Dale Earnhardt Jr finished in the sixth position with Jeff Gordon coming home seventh. Finishing eighth was Joey Logano with Juan Pablo Montoya coming home in the ninth position and Kyle Busch rounded out the top ten.
The Crown Royal Presents the Samuel Deeds 400 started with Ryan Newman on the pole and Jimmie Johnson on the outside pole. Newman got out to an early lead as clean air was vital all afternoon long. On lap 13 Dale Earnhardt Jr began to experience a problem. Earnhardt said he had a vibration on the radio and thought he had a loose wheel. Crew chief Steve LaTarte decided to bring him in and Earnhardt pitted, falling a lap down early. A few moments later it was confirmed that Earnhardt had a loose wheel and the team had made the right call. Unfortunately for Earnhardt he was far behind on a day when track position meant everything.
Newman, meanwhile, stayed in the front of the field. He led by 1.3 seconds on lap 20 and green flag pit stops ensued on lap 26. After the round of pit stops there was a new leader, and that was Jimmie Johnson. Johnson's team made a stellar pit stop, just under 13 seconds and he found himself in the lead by over a second on lap 31. Johnson was leading with Ryan Newman not letting him get too far ahead in second. Johnson's lead was pretty much the same on lap 45. On lap 48 David Gilliland made an unscheduled pit stop for a flat tire. Gilliland would continue but finish three laps down in the 35th position.
The race remained green. In fact another set of green flag pit stops began on lap 54. Fifty-four laps was the longest green flag run a Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis has had since 1994. On lap 59 though, Timmy Hill's #32 Ford ran out of gas on the backstretch. NASCAR, uncertain if Hill was going to make it back around, threw the races' first caution of the afternoon on lap 60. The caution came at a great time for Dale Earnhardt Jr who was a lap down after an early issue with a loose wheel. Earnhardt was back on the lead lap and in the 15th position on the lap 64 restart.
On lap 64 it was Jimmie Johnson again showing his muscle, pulling away from second place driver Carl Edwards. By lap 80 Johnson's lead was over two seconds. On lap 80 Jeff Burton's day took a turn for the worse. Burton's car began to have a rear gear issue and was slowing on the racetrack. That's when NASCAR threw the races' second caution of the afternoon. Burton went to the garage for repairs but would finish in the 43rd position as every car finished the race Sunday afternoon.
The race then turned into a pit strategy race. Several cars pitted while others stayed out. The two Penske cars were out in front with Brad Keselowski leading the field to green on lap 84. Keselowski lost the lead to teammate Joey Logano just three laps later and Logano led for the first time in the race. He was forced to relinquish the lead on lap 98 when he made his pit stop. Jimmie Johnson was back in front but pitted on lap 107. Ryan Newman then led again until it was his time to pit at the lap 110 mark.
On lap 112 the races' third and final caution of the afternoon fell when Timmy Hill ran out of gas again. Hill was coasting on the access road when NASCAR threw the caution. Hill would continue and finish 42nd.
Jimmie Johnson found himself in the lead after pit stops when the race restarted on lap 118. Johnson rocketed out front leading by over two seconds on lap 122. On lap 128 Dale Earnhardt Jr and Joey Logano pitted with Earnhardt beating Logano out of the pits. Johnson was still leading and was due to make his stop just four laps later. He would and trouble on the right rear would hurt Johnson and his #48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. It was an opportunity for Ryan Newman to pounce on and he did. A great pit call by his crew chief Matt Borland was called for Newman to take just two right side tires on lap 136 and Newman found himself seven seconds in front of Johnson after the stops.
Other drivers shared the top spot. Jeff Gordon led until the lap 140 mark when he made his final pit stop of the day. On lap 143 Denny Hamlin pitted from the lead. So did Brad Keselowski on lap 149. Newman found himself in front but only by 3.3 seconds as Johnson had cut his lead down.
However, Newman's lead over the last eight laps stayed pretty steady. He was leading by the same margin on lap 158 and Newman crossed the line first for the first time all season by 2.65 seconds.
Other notables in the field included, Martin Truex Jr in 11th, Carl Edwards in 13th, Kurt Busch in 14th, Denny Hamlin in 18th, Kevin Harvick in 19th and Clint Bowyer in 20th. Brad Keselowski finished 21st, Mark Martin finished 23rd, Greg Biffle finished 24th and Danica Patrick finished 30th.
Jimmie Johnson still leads the points after Indianapolis. He has 740 points compared to second place points man Clint Bowyer who is now 75 points behind Johnson. Third in the point standings is Carl Edwards who is 85 points back of Johnson. Fourth in the points is Kevin Harvick who is 92 points back of the lead and Dale Earnhardt Jr is fifth in the standings 124 points back of Johnson. Matt Kenseth is sixth in the standings with Kyle Busch seventh, Greg Biffle eighth, Kasey Kahne ninth and Jeff Gordon rounds out the top ten in points.
Other notables in the point standings include Tony Stewart in 11th who is just one point behind Gordon for tenth. Stewart currently holds Wild Card #1. Twelfth is Martin Truex Jr and he holds Wild Card #2. Defending champion Brad Keselowski is 13th. Kurt Busch is 14th in the standings and Ryan Newman is 16th. Joey Logano is 18th in the standings.
The next race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule is the GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania on August 4th.
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