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 in Avondale, Ariz.
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. Greg Biffle of Vancouver, Wash., finished 22nd. Kasey Kahne was 39th.
Busch had taken the lead from Johnson on a restart on lap 263 and appeared bound for victory.
John Force (Funny Car), Larry Dixon (Top Fuel), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were the top qualifiers at the NHRA Spring Nationals in Baytown, Texas. … Will Power earned the pole for today’s Indy Grand Prix of Alabama in Birmingham, Ala. … Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas won the Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., and extended their lead in the Rolex Sports Car Series’ Daytona Prototype standings.