NASCAR Cup at Indy: Kevin Harvick wins and increases his championship lead
Monday, July 6, 2020 by Julie Bouchard
The sixteenth round of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season and second to last before the short All Star break, last night’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was action-packed. Championship leader Kevin Harvick managed to stay ahead of the pack into overtime to claim his fourth win of the season and third overall at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval.
To celebrate the win, Harvick and his mechanics in the Stewart-Haas Racing No.4 Ford climbed to the fence of the main stand, reminiscent of the celebration that his team owner, an Indiana native and NASCAR Hall member of Fame Tony Stewart, had made during his victories at this event in 2005 and 2007.
Although Harvick led 68 of the 161 race laps, the event was especially marked by his duel in the lead with Denny Hamlin (Toyota / Joe Gibbs Racing). But while leading with just 7 laps to go, Hamlin suffered a puncture that sent him into the wall at Turn 1, ending his impressive run. « We knew Hamlin was going to be on the edge with tire wear and our crew chief Rodney Childers told me on the radio to just keep putting the pressure on him, » Harvick said, adding: « that’s what I did, I put as much pressure on him as possible ».
With Hamlin out of the race, Harvick found himself in command for the fourth time of the day and then took it upon himself to keep former series champion Matt Kenseth, who replaced Kyle Larson since last May at the helm, at bay. the No.42 Chevrolet of Chip Ganassi Racing during the relaunch. Kenseth, 48 years old and 2nd in this race just 0.743 seconds behind Harvick, has his best result since returning to competition this spring.
Harvick’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Aric Almirola finished third, followed by Brad Keselowski (Ford/Team Penske) and rookie Cole Custer, in another Stewart-Haas Racing Ford.
Former two-time Indianapolis winner and defending NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch finished sixth in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, followed by Michael McDowell (Ford/Front Row Motorsports), rookie Tyler Reddick (Chevrolet/Richard Childress Racing), Bubba Wallace (Chevrolet/Richard Petty Motorsports) and Joey Logano (Ford/Team Penske). This race sees no less than four of the six rookie drivers this season in the series finishing in the top 15, with Christopher Bell (Toyota/Leavine Family Racing) and John Hunter Nemechek (Ford/Front Row Motorsports) finishing 12th and 15th, respectively. .
Hamlin, who had taken the lead in recent pit stops, was eventually ranked 28th after his incident. « It’s difficult, I hate it for the team, » he said after the race. “We did what we had to do and it just didn’t work out for us today. However, I had a fast car (…)” he added.
One of the biggest stories of the weekend involved seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, also a four-time Brickyard 400 winner at this Indianapolis circuit, who tested positive for coronavirus on Friday. Although showing no symptoms, he had to give up his seat at the controls of the Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet No.48 to Justin Allgaier.
Allgaier, who has been competing for the title in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for several seasons, had to give up on the 15th of the 160 laps scheduled in an accident involving several cars away from the pits.
Zach Price, a rear tire changer for Ryan Blaney (Ford/Team Penske), was hit by a car during the incident, resulting in the race being red flagged. Quickly treated at the Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, he was able to join his team at the end of the evening.
The next race in the NASCAR Cup series will take place this Sunday at Kentucky Speedway (start of the race at 2:30 p.m.). The Xfinity series (Alex Labbé’s participation remains to be confirmed) and NASCAR Truck (with Raphaël Lessard in Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Tyota No.4) will also be in action during this weekend.
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