Kevin Harvick won the 26th annual Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard on Sunday. He dominated the race leading all but 42 laps en route to his second victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the 48th of his career.
“Yeah, this is great. Got to say thanks to all the fans. Can’t tell you how much, yeah, that’s great. How much coming to Indianapolis means to me, as a kid I watched Rick Mears win Indy 500s and got to be around him as a kid, and he was my hero, so coming here and winning here is pretty awesome.” Harvick said.
This was Harvick’s third victory of the season and his 17th top-10 finish in 2019.
“Yeah, I don’t know if we had the best car, but we had the fastest car. We gave up the lead there on one of those restarts and then we came and pitted and the caution came out and it worked our way. We’ve given so many away just because of circumstances here, and the way that the caution flag fell today actually worked in our favor. It gave us control of the race and we were able to keep control of the race and not make any mistakes and here we are in Victory Lane at one of the greatest places on earth to race,” Harvick said.
In a rare schedule that saw qualifying early Sunday morning, Harvick qualified on the pole. Stages were broken into 50/50/60 laps to make up the 160 lap race.
Stage 1: Lap 1- Lap 50
On Lap 12, potential playoff contender Daniel Suarez slapped the wall off Turn 2 and brought out the first caution of the day. Chaos broke out on pit road when an incident saw Chase Elliott get turned around causing a backup on pit road. Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex Jr., Bubba Wallace, William Byron and Austin Dillon were all involved.
Johnson had the most damage and would have to come back down pit road for a right rear issue. After the restart, Kurt Busch had a left front tire rub which saw him making a pit stop shortly after on Lap 17. As a result of the incident on pit road, Truex had left front damage on his car. Also during this stint, Brad Keselowski reported a possible vibration, but it was minimal.
The second caution flew on Lap 43 when the No. 00 of Landon Cassill hit the wall hard after a right-front tire went down. Cassill walked out under his own power and was okay.
Under the caution, Joey Logano and Ryan Newman played pit strategy by staying out to get the top spots and everyone else wound up pitting.
A restart came with four to go in Stage 1, however, the field was slowed once more with Erik Jones and Keselowski making contact with each other off Turn 2. Jones hit the wall hard and Keselowski’s car went sliding down to hit the tire barrier. Both drivers would be unharmed.
Due to the incident so late in the stage, Stage 1 ended under yellow with Team Penske’s Joey Logano taking the stage win. Kyle Larson, Harvick, Ryan Blaney, Newman, Johnson, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Alex Bowman and Chris Buescher rounded out the top-10 stage finishers. A red flag would eventually come out to allow track workers to clean up the accident.
Stage 2: Lap 57- Lap 100
Stage 2 almost saw a long green-flag run to the end of the stage before a caution was brought out by Kyle Busch. His motor expired and his car came to a stop on pit road going up in smoke. NASCAR would fly the yellow flag due to the car being stopped.
At the time of caution, Johnson was the leader and green flag pit stops were taking place. Harvick had already pitted on Lap 85 and caught a lucky break with the timing of the yellow. Harvick would cycle out as the leader for the restart. Like the ending of Stage 1, another caution was seen for debris in Turn 2 on Lap 97 and the stage ended under yellow once more.
This time it was Harvick who would end up winning the stage. Logano, Larson, Blaney, Logano, Clint Bowyer, Suarez, Kurt Busch, Johnson and Byron were the top-10 stage finishers for Stage 2.
Stage 3: Lap 105- Lap 160
When Stage 3 began, a major wreck broke out in Turn 2 when Johnson hit the wall. This would end Johnson’s championship hopes for the first time in his career. Kurt Busch, Byron, Buescher, Menard, Kligerman and Daniel Hemric were also involved in the crash.
In what seemed like a potential race losing moment for Harvick, Blaney took the lead for a short while before green flag pit stops began with 34 to go. Harvick pitted from the lead two laps later and once again, a caution was flown for the No. 42 of Larson who hit the wall.
Two more yellows were seen. The first occurred with 26 to go for Bowman spinning off Turn 2 and hitting the inside wall on the backstretch. The other caution came with 14 to go when Matt Tifft hit the wall in Turns 1 and 2.
This would set up a late race restart with nine to go. Logano was on the outside row and tried to make a move on Harvick on the backstretch. However, Harvick closed him off, checked out from the field and went on to win his third race of the season and the 48th of his career.
“As long as I was side-by-side going into Turn 1, I just didn’t feel like they were going to pass me,” Harvick added to PRN Radio. “I felt like I could hold my car in the second lane for the first three corners and nobody ever made it to the fourth corner on the inside line. So for us, I just needed to stay side-by-side and I wasn’t trying the bottom again, and that didn’t work. Luckily, things worked our way.”
With three wins this season, Harvick is going to compete for the championship and hopes to win his second title for the first time since 2013. Harvick led five times for 118 laps for his second career Indy win.
There were nine cautions for 48 laps and 13 lead changes among eight drivers.
Up Next: With the playoff grid set, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers began their 10 race playoff run next weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
- Kevin Harvick, led 118 laps, won Stage 2
- Joey Logano, led 11 laps
- Bubba Wallace
- William Byron, led one lap
- Clint Bowyer
- Denny Hamlin
- Ryan Blaney, led 19 laps
- Ryan Newman
- Chase Elliott
- Paul Menard, led one lap
- Daniel Suarez
- Austin Dillon
- Ty Dillon
- Aric Almirola
- Chris Buescher
- Ryan Preece
- Michael McDowell
- Matt DiBenedetto
- Corey LaJoie
- David Ragan
- Alex Bowman
- Ross Chastain
- Reed Sorenson
- Ryan Sieg, three laps down
- B.J. McLeod, three laps down
- J.J. Yeley, three laps down
- Martin Truex Jr., four laps down
- Garrett Smithley, four laps down
- Josh Bilicki, five laps down
- Kurt Busch, five laps down
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr, seven laps down
- Matt Tifft, OUT, Crash
- Kyle Larson, OUT, Crash
- Daniel Hemric, OUT, Crash
- Jimmie Johnson, OUT, Crash
- Parker Kligerman, OUT, Crash
- Kyle Busch, OUT, Engine
- Brad Keselowski, OUT, Crash
- Erik Jones, OUT, Crash
- Landon Cassill, OUT, Crash