On Saturday in qualifying for the Brickyard 400, Ryan Newman was the only driver that was able to beat Jimmie Johnson. That carried over to the race too.
Newman seized the lead after the final round of pit stops with 30 laps to go and held on to win at Indianapolis by three seconds over Johnson, who lost the lead on pit road because of a slow stop.
On pit road, Johnson and team elected to take four tires and had issues with the right-rear tire on the stop, which ended up taking over 17 seconds to complete. Newman hit pit road after Johnson did, and after seeing the struggles that Johnson's team had, crew chief Matt Borland elected to change two tires on Newman's car. That stop took six seconds and change.
"(Crew chief) Matt Borland made an awesome call," Newman said. "I've won more races on old tires and out of gas than I have with four tires and the best car."
When both drivers were back on track and at full speed, Newman had a seven second gap on the No. 48. That was more than enough to maintain despite Johnson's tire advantage.
There’s definitely disappointment there, but that’s racing and stuff happens," Johnson said. "I’ve given away a couple late in the race myself this year. We win as a team we lose as a team, that’s just how it is. I wouldn’t take another race team out there."
But don't let Newman's statement make you think this was a win solely predicated on tire strategy after Johnson's pit crew's hiccup. Yes, Johnson would likely have won had the pit stop gone smoothly, given how much he gained on Newman on the race's final stint. But if there was a team that was going to beat the No. 48 straight up on Sunday, it was Newman's.
(Random note: It's the first race since June of 2011 at New Hampshire that the drivers that started 1st and 2nd finished in that order. The winner of that race? Newman. Tony Stewart was second.)
Until the final stop, four tires had been the preferred pit strategy of choice for Newman's team every time he hit pit road. But while that put him in traffic at times because of the different pit sequences that played out throughout the race, Newman was consistently able to work his way to the front -- where Johnson usually was. Johnson led 73 laps, while Newman led 45.
Kasey Kahne was third and Tony Stewart was fourth, capping off an incredible week for the Stewart-Haas Racing owner after hosting the Camping World Truck Series at Eldora on Wednesday and getting his first win at Indianapolis as a car owner with Newman on Sunday.
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- Ryan Newman
- Jimmie Johnson