Event: The Brickyard 400 (Round 20 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2.5-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 1st/8th (Running, completed 160 of 160 laps)
Winner: Jeff Gordon of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, led the way for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway by finishing eighth in the 21st annual Brickyard 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Harvick started from the pole after a track-record qualifying lap on Saturday and led twice for 12 laps en route to his ninth top-10 this season and his eighth top-10 in 14 career Sprint Cup starts at Indianapolis. It was also his 218th top-10 in 486 career Sprint Cup starts.
Harvick led the first lap of the race but immediately radioed to crew chief Rodney Childers that the Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was “way, way too tight.” Harvick did his best to hold his track position and raced his way to the lead for the second time starting at lap 55, keeping that position until he pitted for service under green-flag conditions on lap 66.
A caution on lap 67 dropped Harvick from the lead as the field worked through the pit cycle, but he was able to maintain a top-five position until he was shuffled back to eighth after pitting on lap 130. Following that pit stop, Harvick again told the crew that the No. 4 Chevrolet was too tight in the corner and the splitter was making contact with the racetrack.
The No. 4 team made one final two-tire pit stop under caution on lap 140 as several cars stayed out to maintain track position. Harvick restarted 12th with 17 laps remaining and raced to an eighth-place finish in the closing laps.
“We just started off bad really from the first lap,” Harvick said. “The Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was just way too tight as we went through the day, and we never could make it better. We just made it worse most of the day. So yeah, just way too tight.”
According to NASCAR, Harvick needed to finish the Brickyard 400 289 points ahead of the 31st position in the driver championship standings in order to clinch a berth in the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase for the Championship. Harvick finished the race with a 281-point lead over the 31st position, eight points short of securing a Chase berth for the No. 4 team.
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS for SHR, started sixth and finished 17th.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, started seventh and finished 28th, one lap down.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, started 14th and finished 42nd after her car broke a rear gear following a lap-69 pit stop. The crew replaced the part in the garage, but she ended up completing only 114 laps.
Jeff Gordon won the 21st annual Brickyard 400 to score his 90th career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his series-best fifth at Indianapolis.
Kyle Busch finished 2.325 seconds behind Gordon in the runner-up spot, while Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano rounded out the top-five. Kasey Kahne, Kyle Larson, Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Austin Dillon comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were four caution periods for 16 laps, with two drivers failing to finish the 160-lap race.
With round 20 of 36 complete, Harvick leads the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He is 12th with 565 points, 152 behind first-place Gordon. Stewart is 19th with 529 points, 188 out of first. Kurt Busch is 25th with 456 points, 261 out of first. Patrick is 28th with 382 points, 335 out of first.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the GoBowling.com 400 on Sunday, Aug. 3 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. The race starts at 1 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with its prerace show at noon.