Harvick goes back-to-back at Indy

 

Kevin Harvick celebrates
Kevin Harvick Celebrates
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Kevin Harvick took the third drive of his career on his street of dreams – Victory Lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – after winning the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 Powered by Big Machine Records.

Harvick became just the third driver to win this crown jewel race of the NASCAR Cup Series at least three times – joining five-time winner Jeff Gordon and four-time winner Jimmie Johnson — as he also won last year and in 2003. He is the first back-to-back Brickyard winner since Kyle Busch in 2015 and 2016.

2014 Cup Series champion Harvick drove away from fellow veteran Matt Kenseth during a two-lap overtime finish, winning by .743 of a second in the No. 4 Busch Light Patriotic Ford with an average speed of 123.162 mph. Aric Almirola finished third in the No. 10 Smithfield Ford.

The win added to Harvick’s growing legend at IMS, a place where Rick Mears, his childhood idol and fellow resident of Bakersfield, California, won the Indianapolis 500 four times.

[adinserter name=”GOOGLE AD”]“It’s the Brickyard, man,” Harvick said. “This is what I grew up wanting to do as a kid, win at the Brickyard. And to be able to come here and have won for the third time is something I could have never dreamed of. Really, really proud of all the guys on this team.”

The overtime finish was set up when the right front tire of leader Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota went down in Turn 1 on Lap 154, sending Hamlin’s car hard into the SAFER Barrier. Hamlin was unhurt.

That incident spoiled a hotly anticipated duel between Hamlin and Harvick – the two dominant drivers of the day and of this NASCAR Cup Series season – over the final seven laps at sunset, as the race started 55 minutes late due to lightning in the area.

“We had a fast car, obviously, and was stretching out there, but I wasn’t pushing the right front at all,” Hamlin said. “It’s just kind of roulette, whether you’re going to get one (tire) that’s going to stay together or not. Mine didn’t, and you saw the end result. That stinks. But I’m proud of the whole FedEx Toyota team.”

Harvick jumped from second to the lead after Hamlin was eliminated and motored away from Kenseth’s No. 42 McDelivery Chevrolet on the restart for the two-lap, green-white-checkered overtime finish.

Harvick‘s Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Aric Almirola finished third followed by Brad Keselowski and Sunoco rookie Cole Custer.

Two-time Indianapolis winner and reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch finished sixth followed by Michael McDowell, rookie Tyler Reddick, Bubba Wallace and Joey Logano. It was an especially impressive outing by the series rookies — with four of the six finishing among the top 15. Christopher Bell and John Hunter Nemechek were 12th and 15th, respectively.

Hamlin, who took the lead on the race‘s final round of pit stops, ultimately finished 28th following his incident.

“It‘s tough, I hate it for the FedEx team [No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing team],” Hamlin said post-race. “We did what we needed to do and it just didn‘t work out for us today. Had a fast car obviously. Proud of the whole FedEx Toyota team. We‘ve been so good lately. Feel like I‘m doing all I can, in these big races. A lot things like this don‘t go my way all the time, but we‘re still going to go next week and try to win the next one. Do all we can.”

Harvick's SHR Ford on the Indy Speedway vertical lift winner's podium
Harvick’s SHR Ford on the Indy Speedway vertical lift winner’s podium
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

And, he acknowledged of the competition with Harvick, “It‘s been a great battle, and those guys are great competitors. Last few weeks have been kind of a head-to-head with me and him. Probably not another guy I‘d rather battle with each and every week. Congrats to them and that team. We had two very close and equal cars but they got it today.”

One of the weekend‘s biggest stories involved seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, a four-time Brickyard 400 winner, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 virus on Friday and had to sit the race out.

NASCAR Xfinity Series perennial championship contender Justin Allgaier was tabbed to drive Johnson‘s No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet — the first time in Johnson‘s legendary career that someone else drove his car in a NASCAR Cup Series race.

Allgaier had to start from the rear of the Indianapolis grid and was steadily making his way forward when he was collected in the pit road melee on Lap 15 — a chain-reaction accident involving several cars. The No. 48 Chevrolet suffered too much damage to continue and Allgaier was officially scored 37th in the 40-car field.

“Once the wreck started happening in front of us and we all got bottled up there, one car after another was getting run into,” Allgaier said. “Just a shame. I hate it for these guys on this Ally 48. They‘ve done such a good job, they prepared so well for the circumstances. Obviously our hearts and our thoughts are with Jimmie right now and his family. That‘s the most important piece of all this, getting him back to the race track soon. I wanted to do well for them today and it‘s just disappointing to be standing here talking to you [reporters] unfortunately. But we‘ll go on.

“I don‘t know what next week looks like yet. But we‘ll run the Xfinity Series race and have a good shot at it. Disappointing way to end the Brickyard 400.

Zach Price, a rear tire changer for Ryan Blaney, was hit by a car on pit road while servicing Blaney‘s No. 12 Ford during the multi-car incident. The race was red-flagged for an ambulance to respond on pit road and Price — who smiled and waved to team members as he was loaded into the ambulance – was transported, treated and released from Indiana University Methodist Hospital. Team Penske said he will travel back to North Carolina with the team for further evaluation.

Results

POS CAR DRIVER MANUF BEHIND LAPS
1 4 Kevin Harvick Ford 0.000s 161
2 42 Matt Kenseth Chevy 0.743 161
3 10 Aric Almirola Ford 1.626 161
4 2 Brad Keselowski Ford 1.769 161
5 41 Cole Custer # Ford 2.777 161
6 18 Kyle Busch Toyota 3.460 161
7 34 Michael McDowell Ford 4.400 161
8 8 Tyler Reddick # Chevy 5.269 161
9 43 Bubba Wallace Chevy 6.147 161
10 22 Joey Logano Ford 6.726 161
11 9 Chase Elliott Chevy 8.703 161
12 95 Christopher Bell # Toyota 9.020 161
13 1 Kurt Busch Chevy 10.674 161
14 13 Ty Dillon Chevy 14.971 161
15 14 Clint Bowyer Ford 15.506 161
16 38 John Hunter Nemechek # Ford 16.677 161
17 77 Ross Chastain(i) Chevy 22.013 161
18 3 Austin Dillon Chevy 48.782 161
19 21 Matt DiBenedetto Ford 57.632 161
20 96 * Daniel Suarez Toyota -1 160
21 27 JJ Yeley(i) Ford -1 160
22 78 * BJ McLeod(i) Chevy -1 160
23 00 Quin Houff # Chevy -2 159
24 53 Garrett Smithley(i) Chevy -2 159
25 7 * Josh Bilicki(i) Chevy -3 158
26 51 Joey Gase(i) Ford -4 157
27 24 William Byron Chevy -5 156
28 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota -8 153
29 66 * Timmy Hill(i) Toyota -8 153
30 88 Alex Bowman Chevy -29 132
31 17 Chris Buescher Ford -62 99
32 12 Ryan Blaney Ford -65 96
33 20 Erik Jones Toyota -88 73
34 6 Ryan Newman Ford -101 60
35 15 Brennan Poole # Chevy -137 24
36 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Chevy -141 20
37 48 Justin Allgaier(i) Chevy -144 17
38 19 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota -145 16
39 32 Corey LaJoie Ford -146 15
40 37 Ryan Preece Chevy -147 14

 

# DENOTES ROOKIE
(i) NOT ELIGIBLE FOR POINTS
(*) REQUIRED TO QUALIFY ON TIME

 

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