Jimmie Johnson cycled back to the front following a caution at Lap 59 and currently holds the top spot at the halfway mark of today’s Brickyard 400 for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Pole sitter Ryan Newman led Johnson for the first 28 laps, but the five-time Sprint Cup champion was able to take the lead after the first round of pit stops under green. Johnson then led the second stint by roughly half a second over Newman until he took his second stop at Lap 56.
However, on Lap 59, the first caution of the afternoon came out for rookie Timmy Hill, who slowed on the track. At the time of the yellow, the Top 5 – Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski – had not yet made their own second stops under green. Those five subsequently pitted under yellow, allowing Johnson to regain the point.
On the restart at Lap 64, Johnson was able to fend off a brief attack from Newman, who then fell back to fourth as Carl Edwards and Kasey Kahne both managed to get by him. Since then, Newman has been able to take third back from Kahne.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has had an eventful first half at Indianapolis. A loose wheel caused him to pit on Lap 12 under green, knocking him one lap down. He then ran off-sequence for a while until the Timmy Hill caution enabled him to get back on cycle with the leaders.
At the Lap 80 halfway point, Johnson had stretched his lead over Edwards to three seconds. Newman runs third, followed by Kahne in fourth and Tony Stewart in fifth.
Jeff Burton’s car has now apparently lost power, triggering the second caution of the day at Lap 81.