The Latest: Harvick wins crash-marred Brickyard 400The Associated Press — By MICHAEL MAROT - AP Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Latest on the Brickyard 400 on Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway: (all times local):
Kevin Harvick won the Brickyard 400 for the second time, beating Joey Logano by 6.118 seconds in a crash-marred race that ended Jimmie Johnson's perfect playoff run.
Clint Bowyer and Ryan Newman claimed the final two spots in the 16-driver field while Johnson was eliminated for the first time. Daniel Suarez finished 17th at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, four points short of becoming the first Mexican-born driver to make the playoffs.
Johnson, a seven-time Cup champ, was the only driver to qualify for every Cup playoff since the format was introduced in 2004. But after starting the day 18th in points, two spots and 18 points below the cutline, he was still down 12 points when the third and final stage began.
His long-shot bid finally ended when William Byron and Johnson ran side-by-side through the second turn and the rear end of Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet spun in front of Kurt Busch, sending both into the second turn wall. The eight-car melee ended Johnson's day and streak.
It was one of six crashes in a race that had 48 of 160 laps run under caution.
Harvick's No. 4 Ford was the best car on the 2.5-mile oval. He won the pole in the morning, led 118 laps in the afternoon and crossed the famed yard of bricks first. Harvick also won the race in 2003.
Denny Hamlin finished sixth and was the top finisher for Joe Gibbs Racing, which was trying to become the first team to sweep NASCAR's four biggest races in the same season.
Jimmie Johnson's playoff run is over.
The seven-time Cup champion needed to earn 12 points in the final stage Sunday but instead hit the wall coming through the second turn in another big crash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Johnson drove the No. 48 car that has been in every NASCAR playoff back to pit row and into Gasoline Alley. It's the first time since the format was implemented in 2004 that Johnson won't participate.
The crash occurred when the rear end of Johnson's car was spun in front of Kurt Busch, sending both into the outside wall.
Kevin Harvick won the second stage of the Brickyard 400 under caution — the same way Joey Logano claimed the first stage.
Johnson briefly inherited the lead when two-time race winner Kyle Busch pulled onto pit row with a blown engine late in the second stage on Lap 88.
The race was stopped again a few laps later for debris on the track, with the four drivers vying for the final two playoff spots in position for a potentially wild shootout. Clint Bowyer was fifth, Daniel Suarez was sixth, Johnson was eight and Ryan Newman was 12th.
But track workers didn't get the debris cleared in time.
Seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson took over as the leader at the Brickyard 400 when a yellow flag came out late in the second stage.
Kyle Busch climbed out of the No. 18 car after stopping on pit road with smoke billowing out of the car on lap No. 88.
The regular-season champion had flames coming out of his right front tire as he came down the backstretch and pulled into pit lane. He later said it was a blown engine.
Johnson, who started the day 18th in points, suddenly found himself 15th. He is one of four drivers attempting to make the 16-driver playoff based on points.
They restarted after a big crash involving Erik Jones and Brad Keselowski brought out a red flag for 12 minutes, 36 seconds.
NASCAR has red-flagged the Brickyard 400 after a wild first stage.
Joey Logano won the stage under caution after defending race champion Brad Keselowski and Southern 500 champion Erik Jones got tangled coming through the second turn on the second-to-last lap.
Jones' car hit the outside wall hard while Keselowski's car slid sideways into a tire barrier before the No. 2 car came to a stop on its side. Both drivers climbed out of their cars and Jones said he got loose in the turn, blaming himself for the crash.
That crash came just seven laps after Landon Cassill slammed into the wall in the first turn at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The No. 00 Chevrolet made a sharp left turn, slid up the track and hit the outside wall hard before rolling to a stop. Cassill was able to climb out of the cockpit. Most of the field pitted under caution with seven laps left in the first stage.
All three drivers were checked at the infield medical center and released.
NASCAR red-flagged the race two laps into the second stage.
Three of the four drivers fighting to claim the final two spots — Ryan Newman, Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer — finished among the top 12. Newman was third, Johnson was sixth and Bowyer was 11th. Johnson, who has never missed the playoff, started the day 18th in points but moved up one spot, passing Daniel Suarez, who also had a scrape with the wall early in the race.
Daniel Suarez's playoff chances were dealt a blow on the 12th lap of the Brickyard 400 when his car brushed the wall coming through the second turn. The cockpit filled with smoke and Suarez was forced to make an early pit stop, which sent him to the back of the field.
Suarez is trying to become the first Mexican-born driver to make NASCAR's 16-driver playoff field.
He started the race tied with Ryan Newman for 16th and is one of four contenders hoping to get one of the final two playoff spots based on points.
Suarez climbed back to 38th when most of the field pitted under caution — causing a Chase Elliott, Bubba Wallace and Matt DiBenedettto get-together just outside the pit box of Jimmie Johnson, who appeared to be unaffected by the action.
Johnson, the seven-time Cup champ, started the day in 18th.
The Brickyard 400 is underway, earlier than originally scheduled because of the threat of rain.
Kevin Harvick led the 40-car field to the yard of bricks from the outside row for the Cup's regular-season finale.
Before the race, Kyle Busch and his team posed with the regular-season trophy he's already clinched.
All eyes will be on Jimmie Johnson, who needs a strong performance to make the 16-driver playoff field. He's the only driver to compete in every playoff since the format was implemented in 2004.
And Joe Gibbs Racing is attempting to become the first team to sweep NASCAR's four biggest races in the same season. Busch was the highest qualifier of Gibbs' four-car stable, starting seventh. Gibbs' three other drivers — Denny Hamlin, Erik Jones and Martin Truex Jr. — each won one of the first three "crown jewel" races.
Jimmie Johnson will begin his last-gasp playoff push from the No. 5 starting spot after qualifying for the Brickyard 400 at 185.181 mph.
The seven-time Cup champion is the only driver to make the playoffs every year since the format was adopted in 2004. But he enters the race 18 points out of the 16th and final spot.
He'll be chasing pole winner Kevin Harvick, 2011 Brickyard winner Paul Menard and Clint Bowyer, who also is trying to lock up a playoff spot, after they took the top three starting positions.
Harvick, the 2003 Brickyard champ, went 185.766 in the No. 4 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing. A late wiggle on his qualifying run dropped Menard to second at 185.724 in the No. 21 Ford for Wood Brothers Racing. It's the third time Harvick has won the pole at Indy and his fifth pole of the season.
Bowyer took advantage of cloud cover to post fast times. Harvick's teammate, Bowyer will start third in the No. 14 Ford with a speed of 185.277.
Johnson told reporters Saturday he needed to be fast out of the gate and needs to run up front all day to have a chance to drive the No. 48 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports into Indy's victory lane for a record-tying fifth time.
The other two playoff contenders — Daniel Suarez and Ryan Newman — start further back. Suarez is 20th after going 183.643 in the No. 41 Ford and is trying to become the first Mexican-born driver to make the playoff.
Newman went 183.273 in the No. 6 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing. The 2014 Brickyard winner will start 22nd.
Two of the 16 playoff spots are still open.
Race organizers announced Sunday's race would start 18 minutes earlier than originally scheduled.
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