INDIANAPOLIS — Ryan Newman fulfilled the childhood dream of so many who grew up in Indiana — winning at storied Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Newman, from South Bend, ended a 49-race losing streak with Sunday’s victory at the Brickyard, and he did it by beating Jimmie Johnson.
Newman set a NASCAR track record in knocking Johnson off the pole in qualifying, then used a fast final pit stop Sunday to snatch the win from the four-time Indianapolis winner.
The two were the class of the field — they combined to lead 118 of the 160 laps — but it was Johnson who dominated the race and appeared to be just a bit better. But Johnson pitted from the lead with 27 laps remaining and it was a slow final stop for the Hendrick Motorsports crew.
Newman pitted after that and took only two tires to move into the lead after the green-flag stops cycled through the field. The closest Johnson would get to him again was when he paid a congratulatory visit to Newman in Victory Lane.
Newman was remarkably composed as he took the checkered flag and in Victory Lane.
“I don’t realize it yet. It’s a dream come true,” he said. “It can’t hit you all at once, it’s not good enough. It will take a week or so for it to sink in.”
The victory comes as Newman is looking for a job.
Stewart-Haas Racing has signed Kevin Harvick to join the team next season, and team co-owner Tony Stewart informed Newman two weeks ago he won’t be brought back in 2014. It didn’t change the post-race mood, as Stewart hustled to Victory Lane, lifted Newman from behind and the two shared a long embrace.
“He just had an awesome weekend,” Stewart said. “I kept looking up the board and watching and I was scared to ask where he was at and how big of a lead he had. I didn’t want to jinx him. Just really proud of him — he’s a great teammate and an even better friend.”