A Hoosier native winning at the yard of bricks? Yeah, that doesn’t happen too often.
Well, guess what? Ryan Newman has done the unthinkable. Newman has won the 20th Annual Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and did so in stunning fashion. He and crew chief, Matt Borland, used a two-tire strategy to capitalize on a faulty four-tire stop by Jimmie Johnson with less than 30 laps to go. The win ends a 49-race win-less streak for Newman who’s looking for a new employer next year.
Newman became the third driver ever to win the race from the pole. Leading the first 29 laps, Newman nearly tied the amount of laps he’s led this entire season before Sunday’s race (30). The win didn’t come easy for Newman though. He had to work his way around Johnson who led a race high 73 laps, even though he just couldn’t hold on late in the race and finished second.
There wasn’t much action throughout the race. In fact, every single one of the 43 cars finished the race. It’s the first time that’s happened in quite some time which is stunning considering how many teams usually start-and-park and/or wreck each week. Having just three cautions throughout the race, two of them being for Timmy Hill, teams had to pit during green flag runs numerous times which got several teams off sequence.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski each attempted to pull off a different type of strategy. Logano and Gordon both had a shot to win the race, but evidently their strategies just didn’t pan out as they expected late-race cautions which didn’t happen. However, all of those drivers with the exception of Keselowski, finished in the top-10.
Newman’s car owner/teammate, Tony Stewart, had a great run, finishing in the fourth position, showing that he and his Chevrolet powered team are going to be a force to be reckoned with come the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup. Stewart is now just one point behind Gordon for a spot in the top-10 in points. The win for Newman also marks the 11th straight Brickyard 400 win for Chevrolet, starting back in 2003 with Kevin Harvick. Newman’s victory will also help him as he attempts to make NASCAR’s version of the playoffs and is just 25 points out of the top-10 after having a slow start to the season.
Juan Pablo Montoya, who nearly won the Brickyard 400 several years ago, finished ninth and brought him a drop closer to the top-20 in points. Martin Truex Jr. had a terrible qualifying run and took a while to recover from that. However, he took his No. 56 Toyota through the pack to finish 11th at Indianapolis. Yet, even though Truex Jr. had a decent run, his Michael Waltrip Racing teammates didn’t fare as well. Mark Martin was lapped mid-race and finished 23rd being the last car on the lead lap while Clint Bowyer finished 2oth. Bowyer remains second in points but is just 10 markers ahead of Carl Edwards who finished 13th after running very strong early on.
The 20th running of the Brickyard 400 was very entertaining to say the least. Newman’s victory was huge for not just himself, but the sport as well. It adds someone else to the list of winners at the Brickyard, shows that Newman can still win races and run well when given equipment and more importantly shows that Hendrick Motorsports‘ engine package is stronger than ever.
Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.