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Doug McSchooler | Associated Press
Ryan Newman celebrates with his wife, Krissie, and daughters, Brooklyn, left, and Ashlyn, after winning the Brickyard 400.

A final few Brickyard thoughts

INDIANAPOLIS -- Ryan Newman has smooched the bricks, holding his little girl in one arm. He's felt the love of the fan(s). He's explained himself, sort of, when asked why winning at Indy didn't turn an Indiana boy like him into 5 feet, 11 inches of emotional goo.

So I guess it's time now to for a few last observations, 24 hours on, of a 20th Brickyard 400 that may or may not have had the shine of history to it:

1. Ryan Newman's explanation for why Indy didn't turn an Indiana boy like him into 5 feet, 11 inches of emotional goo.

The discount-store answer: It's just not him.

"I don't show a lot of emotion," Newman said Sunday. "I had the same emotion, the same thankfulness I did when I won the Daytona 500 because I feel everybody that has been a part of my racing career -- from people that bought my racing uniform, bought me a right rear tire, given us a credit card to get to some racetrack at some point in my career -- those are the people that helped me get to where I am today.

"To me, it's awesome to win at Indy. It's awesome because it's my home state. I grew up racing around here, Winchester, Salem, IRP, little tracks like Anderson. That makes it special. I've raced go-karts at pretty much every go-kart track around here, and been kicked out of half of them. Those are the things that make it special. I think about those things more than I carry the emotion on my cheeks."

Can't be said better than that.

2. So this is why people hate Jimmie Johnson.

The man is simply not beatable when he's right, especially at a place like Indianapolis, where the proceedings too often turn into an episode of The Frontrunner And Them Others. Johnson so thoroughly dominated the 2012 Brickyard he left everyone else in awe; Sunday, he had a repeat on his racquet until a rare pokey stop on the last pit cycle putting him hopelessly behind Newman.

Dominance like that does not exactly make the pulse pound. But it should be appreciated.

"When somebody does a good job, does a great job, everybody hates that," Tony Stewart Sunday, talking as much about Johnson as his own driver, Newman. "I don't understand that. It baffles me as a race car driver."

It should baffle all of us.

3. Time travel is cool.

Or so you would have thought, too, if you'd seen that B-25 doing the flyover prior to Sunday's race. Jimmy Doolittle flew one of those things over Tokyo, way back when. A whole bunch more of them helped beat Hitler and Tojo. It's not saying a lot for the uneventfulness that later ensued, but it was the highlight of the day.

3. The future's pretty interesting, too.

On a fall-like day when no one had the go-to it's-too-hot excuse, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was a virtual ghost town, more sparsely populated than it's ever been for the Brickyard. The stands in the north and south short chutes were virtually deserted -- as was a fair section of the main grandstand along the front straightaway, as were even some of the high-dollar seats in the suite area.

All of that stark emptiness -- and the notable lack of enthusiasm even at the start from those fans who showed up -- just threw another log on the fire of one of the weekend's hot topics: How soon will it be before IMS throws up lights and NASCAR makes the Brickyard a Saturday night race?

It's been a trending meme these past few years in the sport, and, after Sunday, no doubt all parties involved are thinking it can't happen soon enough at Indy. When even so eminent a figure as Jeff Gordon says that, while the Speedway doesn't need lights, it would be, like, super-cool if it had them, the handwriting on the wall seems written in screaming orange neon.

Night racin's a-comin'. And sooner than you think.

Ben Smith's blog.