Kevin Harvick waited out the weather and Denny Hamlin’s front right tire to grab his third Brickyard Victory and his fourth win of the season, tying Hamlin for that lead.
The race started, or didn’t, due to lightning in the vicinity so the broadcast replayed the exciting finish of the Xfinity race on the Indy road course. That was some pretty good racing and one that NASCAR ought to think about for the Cup series.
Once the Cup race got underway, it went pretty much like most Cup races at Indy. The cars race like mad at every restart vying for track position and the leaders get strung out several seconds ahead of everyone else. Let’s face it, Indy isn’t great racing and hasn’t been for years. The stands were empty, of course, but it didn’t look all that different from the weak fan attendance in the past couple of years.
But as Brickyard races go, this one was OK. Joey Logano (P10) led early and battled Chase Elliott in the first Stage only to get shuffled back in traffic after pit stops. His car wasn’t the same in dirty air. Elliott (P11) led 26 laps and wound up in the same scenario as Logano.
Meanwhile, Harvick pitted early to gain track position and stayed up front with Hamlin the entire race, winning Stage 2. Hamlin (P28) had the fastest car and led 19 laps for what appeared to be his 5th victory of the season. The trailing Harvick got to him once after the late restart (Bowman’s single car wreck) but couldn’t mount an effective charge after that. Matt Kenseth was sitting in a surprising third place waiting to see what would happen between Harvick and Hamlin. They were keeping the pressure on Hamlin in a high speed duel of chicken. Kenseth had slightly newer tires than Harvick who had slightly fresher tires than Hamlin. It was a game of who’s tires would give out first.
With just a few laps to go, Hamlin lost that duel and his dream of his first Brickyard victory went up in flames and smoke. That left Harvick and Kenseth to battle on the final restart and it was really no contest. Harvick left Kenseth in the dust as he pulled away to defend his 2019 Brickyard win.
After trading wins at Pocono, the season could boil down to a contest between Harvick and Hamlin. Unless another driver gets really hot in the playoffs, these two drivers are at the top of their game right now and look to be the two to beat. But an exit like Hamlin had from the Brickyard could prove disastrous in the playoffs. That would be sad to see, I’d rather watch an epic battle down to the wire between the two of them.
Other notable finishes in the race were Cole Custer (P5), Michael McDowell (P7), Tyler Reddick (P8), Bubba Wallace (P9) and Christopher Bell (P12). Great runs for all those teams and a few others that made the Top 20.
Justin Allgaier (P37) subbing for the ill Jimmy Johnson had a rather inglorious, early exit from the race. During the first pit stop, someone got out of sorts and the next thing you know there was a pile up at the entrance to pit road that caught up Allgaier. The Brickyard has the narrowest pit road and when the drivers are nose to tail coming in, it only takes one driver not paying attention to jack up the rest and that is exactly what happened. One crewman from the 12 car was hit and taken to a local hospital for observation. Fortunately, he was the only one hurt in a very scary situation.
Jimmy Johnson is out for a couple of races after testing positive for COVID-19. Allgaier will fill in for him until he returns.
Lastly, and I hope this is the final time I have to write this, I am standing with Bubba Wallace and NASCAR as they wade through a difficult time. Contrary to what some of our leaders would have you believe, the US flag is the ONLY flag we celebrate and honor this Fourth of July. It is the ONLY flag that our service people serve under and defend this country for. It is the ONLY flag we stand for, take off our caps for and honor with a national anthem.