INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Kevin Harvick avoided the pitfalls of an eventful Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, rising out of an overtime restart to score his fourth NASCAR Cup Series victory of the season and second straight Brickyard 400.
Driving the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Ford, Harvick set the pace for 68 of the 161 laps in the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400. The outcome, which ended in near darkness after multiple delays at the start, was Harvick’s third win at the 2.5-mile Brickyard and the 53rd of his Cup Series career.
Harvick led a fantastic day for Ford as a whole. The Blue Oval saw six Mustangs finish inside the top-10, including Harvick’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Aric Almirola (3rd) and Cole Custer (5th). For Almirola it marked his fifth consecutive top-five finish. For the rookie Custer, it marked his top Cup finish to date.
Brad Keselowski finished fourth to round out the top-five Fords.
The start was delayed 55 minutes by a series of lightning strikes within an 8-mile radius of the speedway. Then the race was just 15 laps old when the red flag emerged for a multicar pile-up on pit road that injured a tire changer for Ryan Blaney’s Team Penske’s No. 12 Ford.
That tangle ended the race early for Justin Allgaier, Martin Truex Jr., Corey LaJoie and Ryan Preece. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ryan Blaney and Christopher Bell were also involved. The event was stopped for 11 minutes, 17 seconds to attend to Team Penske’s Zach Price, who was taken to a local hospital.
The NASCAR Cup Series’ next race is scheduled Sunday (2:30 p.m. ET, FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Kentucky Speedway.
SUNDAY MENCS RACE TOP-10 FINISHERS
1st - Kevin Harvick
2nd - Matt Kenseth
3rd - Aric Almirola
4th - Brad Keselowski
5th - Cole Custer
6th - Kyle Busch
7th - Michael McDowell
8th - Tyler Reddick
9th - Bubba Wallace
10th - Joey Logano
REMAINING FORD FINISHERS
15th - Clint Bowyer
16th - John Hunter Nemechek
19th - Matt DiBenedetto
21st - JJ Yeley
26th - Joey Gase
31st - Chris Buescher
32nd - Ryan Blaney
34th - Ryan Newman
39th - Corey LaJoie
KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Busch Light Patriotic Ford Mustang -- VICTORY LANE INTERVIEW
IF DENNY DIDN’T HAVE HIS ISSUE DID YOU THINK YOU COULD HAVE CAUGHT HIM?
“We knew he was gonna be really close on tires and Rodney told me on the radio he said, ‘Just make sure you keep the pressure on him,’ and that was all the pressure I could give. Those guys do a really good job. I’ve just got to thank everybody on my Busch Light Ford Mustang. Everybody from Mobil 1, Haas Automation, Hunt Brothers Pizza, Jimmy John’s, everybody who is a part of this program and just keeps bringing good race cars to the race track.”
HOW TOUGH WAS THE BATTLE TO STAY OUT FRONT? YOU MADE ONE DARING MOVE WHERE YOU WENT TO THE GRASS TO TRY TO GET THE LEAD.
“I didn’t have any more room. That was for sure, but it’s the Brickyard. 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 that I could have never dreamed of. I want to say hi to my family at home. I know Keelan will be jacked up. Piper is probably asleep. If not, hello. But just really, really proud of all these guys on this team.”
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO WIN THIS THREE TIMES AND NOW BACK-TO-BACK?
“I’m just really proud of all these guys and everybody at SHR. I’ve just got to thank everybody from Busch Light. Our Ford Mustang was fast today. Mobil 1, Hunt Brothers Pizza, Jimmy John’s, everybody at Haas Automation for everything that they do for our car to be able to put it in Victory Lane is just a big effort right now to get the cars to the racetrack. Denny had his issues there and we were able to capitalize and get a great push from Cole there at the end and bring it home.”
WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION WHEN YOU SAW DENNY’S TIRE GO?
“They told me that he was really close on tire wear and our tire wear was good, and they wanted us to push as hard as we could and the pace picked up as it got cooler, so you hate to see people have trouble. I’m just glad he’s okay.”
YOU GET TO KISS THE BRICKS AGAIN.
“Winning never gets old.”
ARIC ALMIROLA, No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang
“We had such a great Smithfield Ford Mustang, but we kept having to get off-sequence on our pit strategy because we kept having tires come apart. They’d start to come apart and they would vibrate and shake so bad that I could hardly see where I was going, so we kept having to pit for that and it kept messing us up on our strategy and getting us off-sequence, but fortunately there at the end the caution came out when we needed it to and things finally went our way and we knocked out another top-five, so just really proud of all the guys on this team. We’re doing such a good job of being consistent. We’re bringing great race cars and we’re being really consistent running up front, so just really proud of this team and just want to keep it going. It’s fun to run up front like that.”
EARLY IN THE RACE YOU HAD A PROBLEM. DID YOU THINK YOU COULD RECOVER?
“No, I didn’t. We kept having tires come apart. They were left-front tires that kept coming apart every 20-25 laps and it kept killing our strategy. We had such a fast race car and we kept getting behind the eight-ball because we kept having to pit for vibrations, but so proud of Mike Bugarewicz and this whole race team. We’re bringing such fast Ford Mustangs to the racetrack. I want to give a quick shoutout to all the employees at Smithfield. You guys are really heroes showing up to work every day during this pandemic to make sure our country is fed. We appreciate you guys so much. Thank you for your support on the race car, but thank you for going to work and providing our country with food. Everybody at Ford. Stewart-Haas Racing. Kevin winning again, but just really proud of our race team. Five top fives in a row. We’re so consistent and when you run that consistently in the top five we’ll win races.”
IS THIS THE BEST YOU’VE BEEN RIGHT NOW IN YOUR CAREER?
“Absolutely, and to be honest Buga and I were just talking. We just ran five top fives in a row at racetracks that are probably my worst racetracks statistically. We’re going to some racetracks that are really good for me -- Kentucky, Loudon, Bristol for the All-Star Race, so I’m excited for these next stretch of races. This team has been on it.”
COLE CUSTER, No. 41 HAAS Automation Ford Mustang
GREAT RUN FOR YOU, BUT IT MUST HAVE FELT GOOD TO PUSH YOUR TEAMMATE TO THE WIN
“Oh yeah. You are always hoping that you can kind of clear it and go. It is awesome to have all of SHR running well here at Indy. It is Tony’s (Stewart) backyard so it is a huge race for us. For us, our team, this package has been exactly the opposite of what I am used to driving. For it to all come together today means a lot. Thanks to all the guys at SHR for bringing great race cars. HaasTooling.com went national this week, so check them out. I am psyched. I am really happy we finally had it all come together.”
WHY DID IT COME TOGETHER THIS WEEK AT SUCH A TOUGH RACE TRACK LIKE INDIANAPOLIS?
“I think it is just that I am getting better with the cars and knowing what to expect when we go to the track and getting better at what to bring in the cars to the track. It is a work in progress and having no practice doesn't help that. I think it is all starting to come to us.”
BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang
“I think we were kind of up and down. We started ninth or 10th and just kind of hung around sixth or seventh and couldn’t quite make the pass. Our car was really, really fast in clean air, but I couldn’t run in traffic. We’d run up to cars and get stopped and would kind of ride. Then we started to see the tire issues and tried to be really smart about that and try not to beat ourselves, keep tires on the car. Of course, every time we pitted to put tires on the car we’d cycle to the back, but we were just really mindful to not beat ourselves and that paid off. It gave us a good finish. If I’d have had clean air all day and not had to worry about the tires, we were as good as anybody, but worrying about the tires and not being spectacular in dirty air we kind of had to play it straight with the way it was and ended up with a top-five and a fourth-place finish. We’ll take that and move forward.”
DID YOU HAVE TIRE PROBLEMS OR WERE YOU CONCERNED WITH WHAT YOU SAW OTHERS HAVING?
“That’s a better question for my crew chief, but, yeah, I felt us have a problem one time and my crew chief confirmed we did. As for specifics, I’m not entirely sure.”
WHAT PROBLEMS WERE YOU EXPERIENCING IN THE CAR?
“The tires, without a doubt. Every time the tires would have an issue it was really concerning. You blow a tire out here you wreck really hard and there’s no chance of saving it, so definitely concerned about that all race.”
MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 34 carparts.com Ford Mustang
“Another great finish for us. Another solid top 10. It’s such a big run for us. I’m so proud of everybody at Front Row and Bob Jenkins for giving me this opportunity. It’s taken so long to be this competitive and I’m so thankful to have the opportunity. To have CarParts.com and Power Stop and Love’s Travel Stops and FR8 Auctions and all our partners throughout the year, Speedco -- so many great people that make this possible and we’re doing it. We’re doing it every week. We’re definitely way more competitive than we’ve ever been and it’s a lot of fun.”