The July heat is in full effect, but it pales in comparison to the run that Kevin Harvick is on. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver won his third Brickyard 400 on Sunday, and became the first back-to-back Brickyard winner since Kyle Busch in 2015 and 2016. Harvick became just the third driver to win this race at least three times, now sitting one victory behind Jimmie Johnson and two behind Jeff Gordon.
“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.” Harvick now ranks 1st in poles, 2nd in top tens and laps led, 3rd in wins, top fives, and total laps. He has the best average finish of all 172 drivers that have competed in the Brickyard 400.
The 2014 Cup Series champion pulled away from Matt Kenseth during a two-lap overtime finish. That was set up after Denny Hamlin slammed hard into the Turn 1 wall due to a right-front tire failure. Hamlin was leading the race with just six laps remaining. It was a heartbreaking moment for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver, who has been arguably the hottest driver this season.
“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.” Hamlin and Harvick were the class of the field during the second half of the race. They combined to lead 62 of the last 74 laps, with Harvick leading a race-high 68 laps on Sunday.
Harvick’s teammate Aric Almirola finished 3rd on Sunday. His previous best Brickyard finish in eight starts was 13th in 2017. 2018 race winner Brad Keselowski was 4th, leading the way for Team Penske. Cole Custer rounded out the top five on Sunday, capping a sensational weekend for Stewart Haas Racing. Not only did they win the race and have three cars finish inside the top five, but they also won the inaugural race on the road course yesterday in the Xfinity series with Chase Briscoe.
The race got off to a late start because of lightning in the area. There was also a red flag on Lap 15 during a massive incident on pit lane, where one crew member for Ryan Blaney’s team was injured. The chain-reaction crash near the back of the line of cars blocked the path entering pit road, pushing Brennan Poole into the side of Blaney’s Team Penske No. 12 Ford. That contact squeezed Penske tire-changer Zach Price between the two cars. After the race, the team announced that he was treated and released from Methodist Hospital, and will travel back to North Carolina with the team for further evaluation.
One of the cars caught up in the incident was the No. 48 car that was being driven by Justin Allgaier, who was subbing for Johnson after he tested positive for coronavirus. The seven-time Cup champion was scheduled to make his 19th start at the Brickyard, with an opportunity to tie Gordon for the most NASCAR wins at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Kenseth’s 20th start in this race resulted in his fourth runner-up finish. He has 10 top-five finishes overall (2nd only to Gordon) but has never been able to win the race.
Kyle Busch continued his winless streak, but was the lone bright spot for Joe Gibbs Racing on Sunday. The two-time Brickyard 400 winner finished 6th after his three teammates (Hamlin, Erik Jones, Martin Truex Jr) all failed to finish the race. Michael McDowell, Tyler Reddick, Bubba Wallace, and Joey Logano rounded out the top ten.
It has been a busy weekend in motorsports, with IndyCar running GMR Grand Prix on Saturday, which was dominated by Scott Dixon. Shortly after that race ended, it was Indiana native Chase Briscoe that won the inaugural Pennzoil 150 NASCAR Xfinity race on the IMS road course. The IMSA WeatherTech series got their season moving again with last night’s race at Daytona, which was won by Jonathan Bomarito and Harry Tincknell. Formula One finally kicked off their season earlier today in Austria, where Valtteri Bottas took the checkered flag in a wild, dramatic race. Harvick’s win today at the World’s Greatest Racecourse put a bow on all of the racing action this weekend.