INDIANAPOLIS — Sometimes two is better than four.
Ryan Newman won the 20th Annual Crown Royal Presents The Samuel Deeds 400 at the Brickyard after late pit strategy where two tires put him ahead of the dominant Jimmie Johnson’s four tires.
The South Bend, Ind. native and pole-sitter won at his hometown track for the first time and it was Newman’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup victory in 49 races.
“This is a dream come true for me,” said Newman, who led 45 laps. “I can’t wait to push my lips on those bricks.”
Crew chief Matt Borland made the call to take two tires on Newman’s No. 39 Quicken Loans Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet with 26 laps to go on a green flag pit stop. That decision proved to be the winning one for the 35-year-old driver.
“We knew we had to do something to win the race,” Borland said.
Newman led the last 11 laps after Brad Keselowski was the final driver to cycle through pit stops. Johnson trailed the pole sitter by 3.599 seconds after Newman took the lead. But the five-time Sprint Cup champion never could get closer than the 2.657-second margin of victory at the end. Johnson finished in second place after leading a race-high 73 laps.
“Today we were awfully close,” Johnson said. “These things are so hard to win. Having a race-winning car like we did, I hate to let this opportunity slip by, but it’s gone, not a lot we can do about it, but we’ll come back next year and try to do it again.”
After appearing to have the race in hand, Johnson’s No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet took four tires on the lap before Newman’s final stop. The 16.9 second pit stop was roughly five seconds longer than the average of his previous three stops.