Drivers took hits as hard as bricks on Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Brickyard 400 race won in overtime by Kevin Harvick.
Harvick sailed to his second consecutive win at the track after a tire blew out on the No. 11 car of Denny Hamlin, who was running in first place in the final laps of the race. The blown tire forced Hamlin into the wall and out of the race. Harvick then moved into first off the final restart ahead of Matt Kenseth and Aric Almirola, who finished in second and third place, respectively.
HARVICK AND HAMLIN DOMINATE AGAIN
The race at Indy further cemented the ongoing battle between consistent race leaders Harvick and Hamlin. The two drivers, ranked first and fifth in points before Sunday, raced in the top-10 in both stages before leading the field in the final stage.
Harvick finished fifth and first in Stages 1 and 2, while Hamlin was sixth and third, respectively, in the first two stages of the race. Off the restart to begin the final stage Sunday, the veteran drivers put over three seconds between them and Chase Elliott, in third place at the time.
With less than 40 laps left in the race, Hamlin’s crew chief Chris Gabehart then called for Hamlin to pit. One lap later, Harvick followed the No. 11 driver to pit road, but Hamlin was able to put over a second between him and Harvick.
After other pit stops cycled through, and following the eighth caution of the race for Alex Bowman, who hit the wall on Lap 133, Hamlin raced to the front and led for a majority of the final stage before his right front tire blew out and he crashed into the wall.
“It’s just kind of (like) roulette,” Hamlin said on NBC after the race. “ ... That stinks.”
Harvick won the first race at Pocono last weekend, and Hamlin won the second race at the same track the following day. The two are now tied for the most race wins this season, with three each.
A TRACK TOUGH ON TIRES
Hamlin wasn’t the only one to crash out. Within the first 20 laps of the race, a major crash occurred on pit road that forced six drivers to exit the race, including Martin Truex Jr., Corey LaJoie, Ryan Preece and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Ryan Blaney’s No. 12 car was also involved in the crash and one of his crew members, Zach Price, was sent to the hospital after his leg got caught between cars on pit road. Price was shown on camera smiling and giving a thumbs up while being carried from the grid on a stretcher.
Drivers also took hard hits. Erik Jones exited the race early after a tire blew out and he hit the outside wall. Ryan Newman didn’t finish the race either, and Team Hendrick suffered on Sunday, beginning with Jimmie Johnson’s replacement driver, Justin Allgaier, in the No. 48 car exiting the race early after he was involved in the crash on pit road.
William Byron then won the first stage, but the No. 24 car blew a left-front tire early into the second stage and sunk to the back of the field. Alex Bowman also spun out, forcing a late-lap caution, while Elliott finished out of the top-10, in 11th place.
NOT ROUGH FOR ALL
Veteran Cup driver Kenseth raced his way into second place for his first top-five of the season. It was also the fifth top-five finish in a row for Stewart-Haas Racing driver Almirola.
Brad Keselowski and Cole Custer rounded out the top-five at the checkered flag, while Michael McDowell, Tyler Reddick and Bubba Wallace finished in seventh through ninth place, in that order.