SPEEDWAY, Ind. - Pole sitter Kevin Harvick led the first seventeen laps and the last fifteen laps to land his first victory of the year at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Harvick's fourth career victory comes in the tenth running of the ...
SPEEDWAY, Ind. - Pole sitter Kevin Harvick led the first seventeen laps and the last fifteen laps to land his first victory of the year at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Harvick's fourth career victory comes in the tenth running of the Brickyard 400 before a crowd of 300,000 fans.
"I can't wait to kiss the bricks man," said Harvick in victory lane.
Harvick's big break came with eighteen laps left during a yellow flag round of pitstops. The No. 42 of Jamie McMurray and the No. 29 of Harvick both elected to stay out, as other lead lap contenders pitted. On the restart at lap 143, Harvick motored his Chevrolet Monte Carlo around McMurray to assume the lead.
As McMurray traded paint and position with Harvick's teammate Robby Gordon after falling to second, a multi-car crash began to unfold behind them as the No. 97 of Kurt Busch bumped the No. 5 of Terry Labonte.
When the smoke cleared Sterling Marlin, Joe Nemechek, Jimmie Johnson, Mike Skinner, and Ricky Rudd also had significant damage.
After track clean-up, the field restarted with just ten laps to go - Harvick easily jumped out to the lead leaving McMurray, both Gordon's and Kenseth to duke it out for positions two through five. The heated competition unfolding for the top five finishing order allowed Harvick to pull out to a three second lead over the field and easily sail on to take the checkered flag for the first time since Chicago in 2002.
"Man I can't believe this," said an elated Harvick. "It's awesome, to win the Brickyard 400 as our first race this year is awesome for this GM Goodwrench team.I don't even know if I can explain it. It's so awesome.I have a picture hanging on my wall that says 'good luck hope to see you here someday' from Rick Mears.
"And damn if we aren't here in victory lane at The Brickyard. This is awesome, for this team and all these fans that stuck with us through thick and thin."
When Harvick was reminded that the No. 29 car had made a trip to victory lane at Indianapolis before, but with a No. 3 adorning the paint scheme, he was visibly pleased.
"Anything that we can do that Dale Earnhardt did is an accomplishment. That's why we still got this number three on the side (of the car) this is what made this whole organization and this whole race team what it is today. I'm just glad to be a part of it."
Besides his victory, Harvick adds one more item to the NASCAR history book. He is the only driver to ever win this event from the pole position.
Championship point leader Matt Kenseth worked his way around Jamie McMurray with four laps to go, to take a second place.
"I was too far behind," Kenseth said. "We had a good strategy. I should have blocked a little more, but it was a great job by my guys, a great run, and we were close."
Jamie McMurray held off the hard-charging Chevy of Jeff Gordon to land third.
"I think if the caution wouldn't have come out we would have been in good shape," said McMurray. "In our meeting this morning they said that in the last thirty laps there is always about eight caution laps, I was hoping this was going to be the odd year but had a caution and got kind of piled up down there behind the 77 (Dave Blaney) car, and got passed."
Three-time Indy winner Jeff Gordon comes away with a fourth place effort. It is Gordon's 11th top-ten this season.
"It was a fight," said Gordon. "Man, I tell you I told the team before the race started that we were going to fight until that checkered flag fell. We were digging all day long, I am so proud of the effort that was put out.
"It was a miserable weekend for us, until we got that fourth place finish."
Defending race winner Bill Elliott rounds out the top five.
"Well, it wasn't bad," said Elliott. "I mean our Dodge ran well, just kind of lost track position. We just couldn't keep up."
Harvick's teammate Robby Gordon, who was a fixture at the front of the field in the races ending laps, faded to a sixth place finish.
"For some reason we just don't have any luck," said Gordon. "We got lapped early and had to fight back. That's the way the ball goes you know, but we did get back onto the lead lap and finished sixth. Very pleased with all the guys today, we had some great strategy to get us back in that position.
"A little disappointed that we didn't win, because we came here to win, but that's the way the ball bounces sometimes."
Indiana native Tony Stewart dominated most of the race, leading a race-high 60 of 160 laps, but finished a disappointing 12th. The day turned sour for the No. 20 team when at lap 131 Stewart pitted for two right side tires and fuel under the green flag, but then came in again a few laps later under yellow to gain two left side tires and top-off gas. The two stops so close together cost the defending Winston Cup champion valuable track position that he was unable to make-up during the remaining laps of the event.
There were only five cautions during the event, the first and scarcest coming at lap 38 when Dale Jarrett in the No. 88 Ford spun while entering pit road, hitting his jack man John Bryan. Bryan was transported to a Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, his injuries were not immediately known, although, he was alert and speaking with safety workers.
This is the second time Bryan has been injured in a pit road incident. Two years ago at Homestead, when Bryan worked for Ricky Rudd's team, he was struck by Ward Burton injuring his knee and causing a concussion. That incident prompted NASCAR to mandate that pit crew members wear helmets.
Matt Kenseth improves his point lead in the race for the championship. His second place finish moves him 286 markers ahead of the rest of the field. Dale Earnhardt retains second place with a 14th place finish at Indy. Jeff Gordon is third, 318 points out of the top spot. Jimmie Johnson is fourth, 496 points short, followed by Michael Waltrip who moves up a spot to round out the top five - 499 points away from Kenseth.