Newman breaks 77-race winless streak
AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) – Ryan Newman broke a 77-race Sprint Cup winless streak Saturday night at Phoenix International Raceway, taking the lead after a late caution and holding off Jeff Gordon in a two-lap shootout.
Kyle Busch was cruising to what would have given him a weekend sweep when a caution flag came out with three laps remaining. When the lead-lap cars pitted, Busch took four tires and came out eighth – behind six cars that took only two tires and Jimmie Johnson, who also took four and was seventh out of the pits.
Gordon beat everybody out of the pits, but spun his tires on the restart in a green-white-checker finish. Newman then charged inside and took the lead, and held on for his first victory since the 2008 Daytona 500.
Newman, driving the No. 39 Chevrolet owned by Tony Stewart, had led only two laps before the final two. That lead came during the first caution only 21 laps into what became a 378-lap race – instead of the scheduled 375, already 63 more than last spring – on the oddly shaped mile track.
Johnson, who had won four of the previous five races at Phoenix, finished third.
Newman snapped Hendrick Motorsports’ string of six consecutive victories at Phoenix, and gave Chevrolet its 10th straight win at the track. Chevy drivers had the top five spots, with Mark Martin fourth and Juan Pablo Montoya fifth.
Matt Kenseth was sixth and Carl Edwards seventh in Fords, while Busch finished eighth in his No. 18 Toyota.
Busch had taken the lead from Johnson on a restart on lap 263, then stayed in front and was seemingly on way to his first Cup victory of the season. But the caution came out when Scott Riggs blew a right front tire – while running just ahead of Busch – and ran into the wall.
Busch won the Nationwide race Friday night at Phoenix in dramatic fashion, benefiting from a late caution.