Kevin Harvick held off Matt Kenseth on fresher tires in NASCAR Overtime Sunday to capture his third Cup Series victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and second back-to-back.
Harvick assumed the lead on lap 154 of the 160-lap scheduled event after then-race leader Denny Hamlin experienced a tire failure.
“Denny had his issues there and we were able to capitalize and get a great push from Cole there at the end and bring it home,” Harvick said. “…They told me that he was really close on tire wear and our tire wear was good, and they wanted us to push as hard as we could and the pace picked up as it got cooler, so you hate to see people have trouble.
“I’m just glad he’s okay.”
The win was Harvick’s fourth of 2020 and 53rd of his premier series career.
Matt Kenseth scored his highest finish in the No. 42 car since returning to the series in May.
Kenseth, who led 12 laps, finished runner-up to Harvick.
“We always come with the goal of winning,” Kenseth said. “I feel like what makes good and bad race tracks most of the time, I feel like, is good cars and getting in position and pit stops and all the things they did to get us there.
“But I felt like this has been one of my better places. I’ve never been able to look at that win, but we’ve ran pretty competitive here at times.”
Aric Almirola, who finished in third place, scored his fifth consecutive Top-5 finish.
“We’re doing such a good job of being consistent,” Almirola said. “We’re bringing great race cars and we’re being really consistent running up front, so just really proud of this team and just want to keep it going.
“It’s fun to run up front like that.”
Brad Keselowski, the 2018 Indianapolis winner, finished in fourth place.
“If I’d have had clean air all day and not had to worry about the tires, we were as good as anybody, but worrying about the tires and not being spectacular in dirty air we kind of had to play it straight with the way it was and ended up with a top-five and a fourth-place finish,” Keselowski said. “We’ll take that and move forward.”
Cole Custer was the highest finishing rookie in fifth, netting his first Top-5 finish in the Cup Series.
“For it to all come together today means a lot,” Custer said. “Thanks to all the guys at SHR for bringing great race cars.”
THROUGH THE FIELD
Kyle Busch, Michael McDowell, Tyler Reddick, Bubba Wallace and Joey Logano rounded out the Top-10 finishers.
Kurt Busch, in his 700th start, finished 13th.
Quin Houff, Garrett Smithley and Josh Bilicki — who finished 23rd through 25th respectively — all earned career-high finishes in the Cup Series.
Denny Hamlin, who led 19 laps, finished 28th.
“I had a fast car obviously and was stretching it out there but wasn’t pushing right front at all,” Hamlin said. “It’s kind of roulette if you’re going to get one that will stay together or not and mine didn’t. You saw the end result.
Justin Allgaier, substituting for seven-time Jimmie Johnson, finished 37th after a pit road crash.
“I told Mr. Hendrick and I told Jimmie as well how honored I was that they would ask me to be in this role,” Allgaier said. “It means a lot.”
“It means a lot as a driver and just everybody involved, and my family. I’d like to get the opportunity again.”
The next scheduled Cup Series race is the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway, scheduled for Saturday, July 11.
Kevin Harvick retains his lead in the standings (637 points) over Chase Elliott (552), Brad Keselowski (549), Ryan Blaney (534) and Denny Hamlin (528).
Ten races remain until the playoff grid is set.
I am a co-owner and reporter for TheRacingExperts.com.