Kevin Harvick didn’t lead every lap at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but it might have felt that way.
Scoring the pole for the Big Machine Vodka 400 — the final regular-season Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race — earlier in the day, Harvick’s speed didn’t offer any hope to the competition Sunday afternoon. In all, Harvick and the No. 4 Ford Mustang led 118 of the race’s 160 laps, which including winning Stage 2 and leading the final 30 laps.
“They built a great race car,” said Harvick. “Just can’t say enough about everybody on this Mobil 1 Ford Mustang. These guys on this race team — they built a heck of a race car. This is the same stuff that we took to Michigan and had a real good weekend there, obviously, and went to victory lane. So to come here to the Brickyard … I know how much this means to Rodney (Childers, crew chief) and all these guys that work on this car because we’ve been so close to winning here before.”
After a tight battle with Joey Logano off the final restart with nine laps to go, Harvick again simply drove away from the field.
It is his second win at Indianapolis and third of the season.
Logano finished second, while Darrell Wallace Jr. had a great day contending with some of the best cars and finished third. William Byron and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top five.
Denny Hamlin was sixth in his backup car, having started at the back. Ryan Blaney finished seventh, Ryan Newman was eighth, Chase Elliott ninth and Paul Menard tenth.
Bowyer and Newman took the final two playoff positions as Daniel Suarez finished 11th.
Harvick was passed for the lead on track just once when Ryan Blaney got the best of him on a restart on Lap 112. It was the first and only time during the day that Harvick chose the inside lane for the restart.
The race’s other leaders came during green flag pit stops and different strategy cycles.
One such cycle and a timely caution flag gave Joey Logano the lead at the end of Stage 1. Logano stayed on track when most of the leaders pitted and led the way to the stage’s conclusion.
Stage 1, however, saw two big accidents. One included last year’s Indianapolis winner Brad Keselowski, who questioned the angle and position of one of the speedway’s walls.
Kyle Busch was officially presented the regular-season championship before the race and then exited on Lap 90. Busch’s No. 18 Toyota went up in flames in Stage 2, and he finished 37th.
The start of Stage 3 brought an end to Jimmie Johnson’s playoff hopes. Johnson crashed while racing three-wide with William Byron and Kurt Busch on Lap 106. He finished 35th.
There were nine cautions in the 400 mile race at the Brickyard as well as 13 lead changes among eight drivers.