NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver had a perfect weekend on a trip back home to Indiana. Things started off Friday with the Stewart-Haas Racing driver claiming his 50th-career Sprint Cup pole for Sunday’s Samuel Deeds 400 at the Brickyard. He followed that up a couple of days later with the race win, his first at his home track of Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“Starting on the pole and winning the race, it was just an awesome day for us,” Newman said. “I don’t realize it yet; t’s just a dream come true.”
Newman was congratulated in victory lane by car owner and teammate Tony Stewart, also an Indiana native.
“He just did an awesome job all weekend,” Stewart said. Stewart also admitted that in the closing laps of the race, while driving his own race car, he was glancing at the track’s jumbo-tron to see where Newman was running.
Jimmie Johnson, who also ran up front for much of the race, finished second. Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Kasey Kahne, was third, Stewart fourth, and Matt Kenseth fifth.
Newman and Johnson were the class of the field all race long, often running first and second. After starting from the pole, Newman led the first 29 laps before Johnson wound up ahead of him after a cycle of green-flag pit stops.
Newman did find himself, briefly, outside the top-10 when he opted to take four tires during a caution at the halfway point of the 160-lap race. Several drivers took two, and therefore, got off pit road quicker. It didn’t take Newman long to work his way back toward the front. He was in the fourth position by lap 96. After drivers who were off sequence began heading down pit road on lap 97, Johnson was back up front and Newman in second.
The field cycled through green-flag stops again with under 35 laps to go. Newman’s crew chief, Matt Borland, made a call to take only two tires. The call for two, paired with a slow four-tire stop for Johnson, resulted in Newman having a seven-second lead on Johnson, who dropped back to second.
Johnson gained ground on Newman in the final laps but was unable to completely catch him.
“Happy it stayed green,” Newman said. “We needed that.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was off sequence for much of the race after a loose wheel necessitated an uscheduled pit stop on lap 13. In the end, he wound up with a sixth-place finish. A handful of other drivers wound up on a sequence similar to that of Earnhardt, including Penske Racing teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski. As a result, both drivers were up front a couple of different times in the race, with Logano leading several laps. Logano wound up finishing eighth, just behind Jeff Gordon.
Keselowski fell outside the top-20 and finished 21st after aborting a plan to stretch fuel mileage and heading down pit road late in the race.
Juan Montoya finished ninth, and Kyle Busch rounded out the top-10.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR