NTT IndyCar Series

Kevin Harvick powers to Brickyard 400 win in overtime

Leave a comment

INDIANAPOLIS – Kevin Harvick pulled away on an overtime restart to win his second consecutive Brickyard 400 and third in his career Sunday night at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Harvick inherited the lead after Denny Hamlin blew a tire and crashed while leading with less than 10 laps left. The victory is Harvick’s fourth of the season and 53rd of his career. He previously won at Indianapolis in 2003 and 2019.

“This is like living out your childhood dream, being able to race and win here,” Harvick said. “I know how many times we’ve had fast cars here, come out the other end.  Now to have won it back‑to‑back, three times, is something that’s a little bit surreal. I kind of have to just laugh about it, think back to all of those times that you told somebody you were going to go win the Indy 500, race IndyCar, whatever the case may be. Now you’re in a stockcar, 20 years into your career, still going strong.”

Matt Kenseth finished second for his best finish since returning to the series in place of Kyle Larson at Chip Ganassi Racing. Kenseth was followed by Aric Almirola, Brad Keselowski and rookie Cole Custer, who gave Harvick the push on the restart.

MORE: Race results 

Hamlin appeared headed for his first Brickyard 400 win until he brought out the caution on Lap 155. A right front tire went down in Turn 1 as he led.  He was the second Joe Gibbs Racing driver to crash after a tire went down. Erik Jones was eliminated earlier in the race

“Just didn’t work out for us today,” Hamlin told NBC Sports. “I had a fast car obviously. Was stretching it out there, but wasn’t pushing the left front (tire) at all. It’s kind of like roulette. Whether you get one that’s going to stay together or not and mine didn’t and you saw the end result.”

Said Harvick: “We weren’t going to get by him unless he made a huge mistake.”

Harvick then had to hold off Kenseth on an overtime restart after getting a timely push from Custer.

“We were clear before we got to Turn 1,” Harvick said. “At that point you have clean air, and those guys were side‑by‑side. We were able to break away right there. Definitely Cole was a huge part of helping us win this race at the end.”

Harvick’s win gave Stewart-Haas Racing a sweep of the NASCAR portion of this historic weekend at Indy that saw the series share the facility with the NTT IndyCar Series. SHR’s Chase Briscoe won Saturday’s Xfinity race on the road course.

Earlier in the race, Zach Price, rear tire changer for Ryan Blaney‘s team, was transported to a local hospital after he was struck by Brennan Poole‘s car on pit road. The incident happened as several cars crashed on pit road during the competition caution on Lap 14. Price gave a thumbs up while on a stretcher before he was loaded into an ambulance. He was transported to a local hospital. Those in the crash included Corey LaJoie, Ryan Preece, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Martin Truex Jr. and Justin Allgaier, who was driving in place of Jimmie Johnson because Johnson has contracted COVID-19.

The race started about an hour late because of lightning within an 8-mile radius of the speedway.

STAGE 1 WINNER: William Byron

STAGE 2 WINNER: Kevin Harvick

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Aric Almirola’s third-place finish marked his fifth consecutive top-five finish. … Brad Keselowski finished fourth, marking his third top-four finish at Indy in the last four years. … Cole Custer finished fifth, becoming the first rookie to place in the top five at Indy since Juan Pablo Montoya did so in 2007.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Ryan Preece, Corey LaJoie, Martin Truex Jr. and Justin Allgaier were all eliminated because of a crash on pit road early in the race that injured a member of Ryan Blaney’s pit crew.

NOTABLE: Sunday marked the first time since 1958 that Daytona did not host a Cup race on or near July 4.

NEXT RACE: The series races at 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 12 at Kentucky Speedway.

Jimmie Johnson to test McLaren IndyCar on April 6

Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
1 Comment

AVONDALE, Ariz. – Seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson said he’s scheduled to test an IndyCar for McLaren on April 6 at Barber Motorsports Park.

The test will take place a day after the NTT IndyCar Series race at the 2.38-mile, 17-turn course, which is about 50 miles from Talladega Superspeedway.

“I’m thankful that I’m going to get a proper test and look at it and kind of re-evaluate it after that,” Johnson said Saturday at Phoenix Raceway.

MORE: McLaren SP engineer believes Jimmie Johnson would adapt well to IndyCar

The test also will come the day after Johnson races in the Cup event at Bristol Motor Speedway.

“I think Bristol is NASCAR’s most physical track and then Barber is IndyCar’s most physical track,” Johnson said. “I’m working hard to make sure my neck is prepared and certainly my shoulders. There’s no power steering in those IndyCars. I’m told when the rubber is down from the IndyCar race, the grip level is going to be higher, the demands on the driver are going to be higher. I’ll be coming in after our toughest race. I love a good physical challenge and here we go.”

Johnson, who is in his final full-time Cup season, has expressed an interest in racing in IndyCar on a road course, among other forms of racing. Johnson attended the first day of IndyCar preseason testing Feb. 11 at Circuit of the Americas as a guest of Arrow McLaren SP’s Zak Brown, who also oversees McLaren’s F1 team.

“Jimmie has been talking about it for a little while and looking at different options,” five-time NTT IndyCar champion Scott Dixon told NBC Sports in February. “He’s been super keen coming to IndyCar races. That is just him. He’s a racer and wants to try something else.”

Johnson was fitted for an IndyCar seat Wednesday. It was his first time to sit in an IndyCar with the aeroscreen, the ballistic, canopy-like windscreen designed to keep debris from hitting drivers in the open-cockpit cars. The aeroscreen debuts this season.

“I am taller, so I feel good about the aeroscreen,” Johnson said. “When I drove the F1 car (in a 2018 ride swap at Bahrain International Circuit with Fernando Alonso), I was taller than Fernando and my head was exposed. We had a hard time keeping my helmet on my shoulders, it kept trying to blow off. So the aeroscreen certainly helps with that, which is really nice. I think safety has gone up tremendously with the aeroscreen on.”

While Johnson has been adamant about not racing ovals in IndyCar, would the aeroscreen’s usage change his mindset?

“I’m going to keep a close eye on the year and the safety that is in the aeroscreen development,” Johnson said. “I really don’t have a desire to run ovals. … Texas, no thanks. Indy, it is Indy and so it weighs on me and makes it harder to say no thanks, but I’m just not interested in them.”

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. believes Indy 500 should never have guaranteed starting positions

Bruce Martin Photo
Bruce Martin Photo
1 Comment

INDIANAPOLIS – Like many viewers watching last weekend’s Indianapolis 500 “Bump Day” on NBC, former NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was captivated by the drama.

THE 103RD INDIANAPOLIS 500: Click here for how to watch, full daily schedule

He also believes INDYCAR should not follow NASCAR’s path of “Chartered Teams” locking up positions in the major races; such as the Daytona 500. That has taken away the excitement and drama of the Daytona Duels.

“Not trying to get myself in the weeds here, but I think Indy could look at the history of NASCAR and how it has changed the excitement for some of the Duels and qualifying,” Earnhardt told NBC Sports.com. “I would not go in that direction. If I was in control of things, I would not pull those levers to have guaranteed spots. The thrill of Bump Day and the battle for the final row, increased the value of Sunday and viewership for Sunday. It taught people about other drivers and teams. We don’t learn those things if you don’t see them going through that battle and experience.

“I thought it was a tremendous win for the people that want to keep things at Indy as they are.”

Earnhardt, who is part of NBC’s crew for Sunday’s telecast of the 103rdIndianapolis 500, believes the way it all played out created a storyline that enhances the interest in the 500-Mile Race.

“I experienced the drama before with Bump Day that has happened here in this race in the past, but I thought it was symbolic with the conversation going on about guaranteed spots,” Earnhardt said. “For the folks who are the traditionalists who believe you have to earn your way in, it was a great day for those folks and their argument. Fernando Alonso and how that story played out and his reaction to not making it, I thought he handled it like the champion he is. All of that was interesting.

“The little teams beating the big teams was pretty cool. It created some really exciting stuff and did nothing but build excitement in the race.

“Even though Alonso is not in the race, I’m just as interested, or more interested, than I was before. Them not being in the race didn’t change it for me. If anything, that whole drama and how it played out made me more excited to see the event.”

Earnhardt is attending his first Indianapolis 500 in person. He will be part of NBC’s Indianapolis 500 Pre-race show along with Mike Tirico and 2005 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Danica Patrick.

Earnhardt will also drive the Pace Car to lead the 33-car starting lineup to the green flag to start the 103rdIndianapolis 500. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 12:45 p.m. Eastern Time.