Kevin Harvick was the typical Kevin Harvick Sunday. He began the day as the car to beat and ended in victory lane at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
In a day that included same day qualifying, Harvick took the pole then a few hours later led a race high 118 laps in route to his third Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series win of 2019, and his second at Indy the last coming 16 years prior.
Other than reporting a vibration and pitting under green on lap 85, it was smooth sailing for the Stewart-Hass Racing driver.
“This is great,” Harvick said. “Can’t tell you how much ‑‑ 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.”
Behind Harvick however it was anything but smooth sailing for the rest of the field, especially for drivers vying for the final spot in the Playoffs.
Clint Bowyer, Daniel Suarez, Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson all had a shot at the final two spots coming into the day. When it was over Bowyer and Newman were locked in while Suarez and Johnson were out.
Bowyer finished fifth, Newman eighth. Suarez had one last chance after a restart with 9 laps to go. He was 10th needing only to pass Newman but was trapped behind Paul Menard and finished 11th. A decent finish considering he had this the wall early in the race and suffered damage the put him a lap down.
No one was more disappointed perhaps then 7-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson. He came into the day 18 points below the cutline for the 16th and final spot, and after qualifying fifth, briefly led from laps 88-92. On a restart on lap 105 at the end of Stage 2, Johnson was seventh; he dove to the low side in Turn 2 and went three wide trying to charge towards the front. His Hendrick Motorsports Teammate William Byron was in the middle and got loose coming down and sending Johnson spinning towards the outside wall. Johnson’s Chevy hit the wall hard.
Johnson took was left of his car straight to the garage ending his hopes for an 8th NASCAR Cup title.
“I think it’s pretty impressive the run we’ve been on to be in the Playoffs for this many consecutive years,” Johnson said. “I’m not sure who is close, but I don’t think they’re very close. So, we have that to be proud of. Sure we wanted it to continue on, but the goal is to win a race. This team is getting stronger each and every week and (crew chief) Cliff Daniels is doing an amazing job of leading this group of Ally’s, and we’re ready to roll. We’ll dust ourselves off and go to Vegas and try to get a trophy.”
Brad Keselowski already locked into the Playoffs saw an early end to his day.
On lap 49 while racing inside the top 10, Erik Jones got under Keselowski in Turn 2. Jones got loose and spun sweeping up Keselowski and sending both cars up the track. Jones’ Toyota ended up hitting the outside wall hard. Keselowski’s Ford meanwhile slid down the track and into a tire barrier used to protect a wall that’s part of the road course. The Ford ended up on top of the tires, but Keselowski was able to climb out unhurt.
Kyle Busch also had an early end to his day, blowing an engine on lap 88 just after leaving the pits. Kyle Larson contended for the win in the second half of the race but lost a tire and hit the wall hard on lap 129 and ended his day in the garage.
For Harvick who starts the Playoffs seeded fourth, he enters the first race of the 10 race Playoffs next week at Las Vegas as one of the favorites.
Joey Logano was second, Bubba Wallace third, Byron fourth and Bowyer fifth.
Denny Hamlin came from the back of the field in a backup car to finish sixth, Ryan Blaney was seventh, Newman eighth, with Chase Elliott and Menard rounding out the top 10.
The Playoff standings as the first race of the 2109 Playoffs begin in a week at Las Vegas:
1. Kyle Busch, 2,045 points
2. Denny Hamlin, 2,030 points
3. Martin Truex Jr., 2,029 points
4. Kevin Harvick, 2,028 points
5. Joey Logano, 2,028 points
6. Brad Keselowski, 2,024 points
7. Chase Elliott, 2,018 points
8. Kurt Busch, 2,011 points
9. Alex Bowman, 2,005 points
10. Erik Jones, 2,005 points
11. Kyle Larson, 2,005 points
12. Ryan Blaney, 2,004 points
13. William Byron, 2,001 points
14. Aric Almirola, 2,001 points
15. Clint Bowyer, 2,000 points
16. Ryan Newman, 2,000 points
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race Results Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard presented by Florida Georgia Line
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Sunday, September 8, 2019
1. (1) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 160.
2. (4) Joey Logano, Ford, 160.
3. (15) Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 160.
4. (29) William Byron, Chevrolet, 160.
5. (3) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 160.
6. (33) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 160.
7. (9) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 160.
8. (22) Ryan Newman, Ford, 160.
9. (24) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 160.
10. (2) Paul Menard, Ford, 160.
11. (20) Daniel Suarez, Ford, 160.
12. (18) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 160.
13. (25) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 160.
14. (10) Aric Almirola, Ford, 160.
15. (16) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 160.
16. (23) Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, 160.
17. (21) Michael McDowell, Ford, 160.
18. (26) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 160.
19. (30) Corey LaJoie, Ford, 160.
20. (17) David Ragan, Ford, 160.
21. (13) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 160.
22. (34) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 160.
23. (37) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 160.
24. (36) Ryan Sieg(i), Chevrolet, 157.
25. (35) BJ McLeod(i), Ford, 157.
26. (40) JJ Yeley(i), Chevrolet, 157.
27. (27) Martin Truex Jr, Toyota, 156.
28. (38) Garrett Smithley(i), Ford, 156.
29. (39) Josh Bilicki(i), Ford, 155.
30. (8) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 155.
31. (12) Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Ford, 153.
32. (28) Matt Tifft #, Ford, Accident, 147.
33. (19) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, Accident, 129.
34. (11) Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, Accident, 109.
35. (5) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, Accident, 105.
36. (32) Parker Kligerman(i), Toyota, Accident, 104.
37. (7) Kyle Busch, Toyota, Engine, 87.
38. (6) Brad Keselowski, Ford, Accident, 48.
39. (14) Erik Jones, Toyota, Accident, 48.
40. (31) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 40.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 119.443 mph.
Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 20 Mins, 6 Secs. Margin of Victory: 6.118 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 9 for 48 laps.
Lead Changes: 13 among 8 drivers.
Lap Leaders: K. Harvick 0;K. Harvick 1-12;R. Chastain(i) 13;K. Harvick 14-42;J. Logano 43-52;K. Larson 53-56;K. Harvick 57-84;K. Larson 85;W. Byron 86;J. Logano 87;J. Johnson 88-91;P. Menard 92;K. Harvick 93-111;R. Blaney 112-130;K. Harvick 131-160.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Kevin Harvick 5 times for 118 laps; Ryan Blaney 1 time for 19 laps; Joey Logano 2 times for 11 laps; Kyle Larson 2 times for 5 laps; Jimmie Johnson 1 time for 4 laps; William Byron 1 time for 1 lap; Ross Chastain(i) 1 time for 1 lap; Paul Menard 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 22,42,4,12,6,48,18,11,88,37
Stage #2 Top Ten: 4,42,12,22,14,41,1,48,24,10