Newman Win at Pheonix, First Victory Since Daytona 08
"He's so proud of me," Newman said after breaking a 77-race Sprint Cup winless streak. "He told me he loved me and I told him I loved him back because it's his name, I'm representing him and a lot of people behind us."
Newman took the lead after a late caution at Phoenix International Raceway and held off Jeff Gordon in a two-lap shootout Saturday night to get his first victory since the 2008 Daytona 500, and first since joining Stewart's new team last season.
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-checkered finish. Newman then charged inside and took the lead, and held on for the win.
"All of a sudden he shot forward. I was like, 'Oh man, I'm in trouble here,' " Gordon said.
"It's been a long time coming for me to get to Victory Lane," Newman said. "I'm gracious to be here. This is the most emotional victory I've ever had in my entire career just because it's been so long."
Newman, driving the No. 39 Chevrolet owned by 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.
"I couldn't believe it. I saw the white flag and I was like I don't have that far to go," Newman said. "Every restart, I had been on the inside and I couldn't get going. ... I held my line and got a good shot off Turn 2. That's all we needed."
It was Newman's 14th career victory in 303 starts, but the first time a No. 39 car has been to Victory Lane (286 races).