Kevin Harvick held off Matt Kenseth in a two-lap overtime session to win the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday.
Harvick picked up his fourth win of the NASCAR Cup Series season, tying him with Denny Hamlin for the most victories this season.
Tire Trouble Ends Hamlin’s Run
It was the second straight time that Harvick had won in Indianapolis, and his third career win on the track.
"This is what I grew up wanting to do as a kid: win at the Brickyard."@KevinHarvick has now accomplished that feat 3️⃣ times in his career. pic.twitter.com/Z4YA7OR2JJ
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) July 6, 2020
Harvick controlled most of the race, leading 68 of the 161 laps on the day. But the final stage of the race turned into a fierce duel between Hamlin and Harvick. Both drivers pushed their cars to the limit late, and Hamlin held the lead with just seven laps remaining. That’s when Hamlin’s right-front tire gave out, sending him into the wall on the first turn and handing Harvick the lead for the last time.
“We knew he was going to be really close on tires and [crew chief Rodney Childers] told me on the radio, he said ‘just make sure you keep the pressure on him,’” Harvick said after the race. “That was all the pressure I could give.”
Harvick has never won at the Brickyard. Afterward, he shared his disappointment about failing to get the job done in Indianapolis yet again.
“It’s just, it’s tough. I hate it for the FedEx team,” Hamlin said. “It was just kind of roulette if [the tire] stays together or not, and mine didn’t.”
Hamlin ended up in 28th place after the accident. He and Harvick have dominated NASCAR racing resumed in May, combining to win seven of the 12 races since that time.
Oddsmakers Make Harvick Clear Championship Favorite
In the overtime session, Harvick jumped out to an early lead thanks to a great restart. That allowed him to hold off Kenseth by 0.743 seconds and take the checkered flag.
Aric Almirola finished third, ahead of Brad Keselowski and Cole Custer. Kyle Busch, Michael McDowell, Tyler Reddick, Bubba Wallace, and Joey Logano rounded out the top 10.
A scary incident occurred just 16 laps into the race when a pileup near the entrance of pit road injured a crew member. Ryan Blaney’s tire changer, Zachary Price, got caught between Blaney’s car and the No. 15 car of Brennan Poole. Medical personnel transported Price to a local hospital, where he was treated and released.
Weather once again threatened to disrupt Sunday’s race, continuing an ongoing storyline for NASCAR this season. Lightning delayed the start at Indianapolis by 55 minutes, though the race proceeded without any weather issues after that.
Sportsbooks have noticed the recent dominance of Harvick and Hamlin. William Hill has the two drivers as the clear favorites to win the NASCAR Cup Series championship this year, posting Harvick as the +275 top pick ahead of Hamlin (+450) and Chase Elliott (+600).