The Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400 ran 12 laps before the red flag brought the field to a halt. With dangerous weather in the area of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, NASCAR stopped the race. Allowing fans to seek safe shelter from the lightning of the approaching storm. The rain passed quickly and fans were allowed back to the Indy grandstands after about 30 minutes. Track crews dried the two and one-half mile Speedway in just over an hour. The race resumed with less than a 2-hour delay.
Pole winner, Kyle Busch(18), led all 50 laps to win Stage one. Followed by Martin Truez Jr.(78) and the Fords of Ryan Blaney(21), Kevin Harvick(4), and Joey Logano(22). Chase Elliott only completed 43 laps before his engine expired. The first engine failure of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.
Midway through Stage two, fan favorite, Dale Earnhardt Jr.(88) broke the car’s radiator and was forced to the garage. During a restart, cars bunched up and Earnhardt ran into the back of Trevor Bayne(6) causing the damage. Busch and Truex again went one-two to give Busch back to back Stage wins at Indy.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.(17) spun coming off turn two at the beginning of the final stage. Crunching the front of his Fusion as it slid into the safer barrier along the inside of the Indy backstretch.
On the restart, Truex on the inside and Busch on the outside raced side-by-side into turn one. Exiting the turn Truex’s car gets loose and slides up into Busch. Both cars wreck with Truex’s car bursting into flames. The fire is extinguished quickly, just like the chances of either driver winning the race. With the two most dominate cars towed to the garage, it became anyone’s race to win.
With 10 Laps to go Clint Bowyer(14) got loose coming out of turn four. His spin collected the cars of Byron, MI native Erik Jones(77) and Kurt Busch(41). The wreck brought out the red flag as the Indy track crew worked to clean up the front-stretch for the final 10 lap sprint to the finish.
The Finish at Indy
When the race resumed under yellow Kasey Kahne(5) and Ryan Newman(31) chose to remain on the track. The rest of the field pitted. Kahne had fresh tires, while Newman’s tires were worn. Brad Keselowski(2) and Bayne were the first off pit road and they lined up behind the two leaders. The green flag flew with seven laps to go and Kahne jumped to the lead while Newman quickly faded. The race back to the start-finish line featured Kayne, Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson(48), and Bayne.
Back in the pack Ty Dillon(13) blocking Kyle Larson(42) drove him down into the wall separating the pits from the track. Larson bounced off and crashed into the outside wall as his car burst into flames.
On the restart with three laps to go Kahne and Keselowski raced door handle to door handle into turn one. Neither driver lifted as they raced through the short chute into turn two. Both cars bobbled as they entered the backstretch. Jimmie Johnson took advantage of the pair racing each other and joined the fray three wide. As they scrambled into turn three Johnson spun and crashed. Sending the race into overtime.
Overtime at Indy
As they came to the overtime start the second row of Bayne and Denny Hamlin(11) were pushing Keselowski and Kahne to the line. Hamlin and Bayne banged when Bayne spun, clipping Hamlin and taking out a number of cars at the front of the pack. Including the Fords of the Wood Brother’s Ryan Blaney and Richard Petty Motorsports’ Aric Almirola(43). Bringing out the red flag for the second time.
With the sun setting the race resumed for the second attempt at a green-white-checkered finish. Inexplicably leader Brad Keselowski chose the outside line allowing Kahne to start inside. Kahne beat Keselowski into turn one and the race was over. A wreck on the backstretch after the leader’s crossed the overtime line made it official. Kahne took the checkered under yellow. The victory ended a 102 race winless streak for Kahne. Keselowski finished second as Indy’s winningest car owner, Roger Penske, failed again to capture his first NASCAR Cup victory at the track.
Ford Driver Finishes
Logano finished in fourth, a nice comeback from last weeks disaster. Kevin Harvick finished sixth, Matt Dibenedetto(38) eighth. Danica Patrick(10) took 11th, Aric Almirola 13th, and Bayne ended up in 20th.
With six races left before the start of the playoffs, the 16 available playoff positions are starting to firm up. Kahne’s win means one less driver will qualify based on points alone.
Truex leads Larson by 48 points in the race for the regular season championship. Harvick is the highest ranked Ford driver in third place 97 points out of the lead. In addition to Harvick, four other Ford drivers have locked up spots with qualifying victories. Keselowski, Stenhouse, Blaney, and Kurt Busch. The four non-winners holding the points qualifying spots are Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray(1), Elliott, and Matt Kenseth(20). The Fords of Bowyer and Logano sit 17th and 18th respectively. Bowyer trails Kenseth by 33 points, Logano is another 18 points back or 51 points out of the final playoff spot. It appears it will take a victory by a driver hoping to qualify to unseat Kenseth from the bubble.
Next week the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series pays their second visit of the summer to Pocono Raceway for the Overton’s 400. Watkins Glen follows on August 6th before the circuit returns to Michigan International Speedway on Sunday, August 13th. Tickets are still available for the Pure Michigan 400 at our hometown track in the beautiful Irish Hills of Michigan.