|Date: July 24, 2016
Event: 23rd Annual Brickyard 400 (Round 20 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2.5-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 24th/22nd (Running, completed 169 of 170 laps)
Point Standing: 24th (373 points)
Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing in overtime (Toyota)
A late-race accident in Sunday’s 23rd Annual Brickyard 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway left Danica Patrick and the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) unable to contend for a top-20 finish at the historic 2.5-mile track.
Patrick started the race from the 24th position and remained inside the top-30 as she battled an ill-handling car. Crew chief called for air pressure and chassis adjustments throughout the event in an effort to improve the car’s balance.
Due to the blistering pace set by eventual race winner Kyle Busch, Patrick went a lap down to the leader during a long, green-flag run at lap 50, but she was the beneficiary of the “lucky dog” pass when the caution flag waved three laps later to go back on the lead lap. Patrick once again went a lap down later in the race and was scored in the 18th position at lap 120 when the caution flag waved once again in the midst of green-flag pit stops.
Scott made the call for Patrick to take the wave-around and pit once the field went back to green-flag racing conditions at lap 127. The wave-around cars that attempted this strategy were once again caught a lap down to the leaders before the caution flag waved at lap 130.
Patrick was scored just outside of the top-20 in the closing laps of the race. But when the caution flag waved at lap 153 for a multicar incident that Patrick had skillfully managed to avoid, the No. 31 car came down the track and clipped the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet, sending her into the outside wall. NASCAR officials displayed the red flag and stopped the cars on the track as they cleaned up the debris from the wreck.
Once the yellow flag was displayed again, Scott called Patrick to pit road for repairs. The No. 10 Nature’s Bakery team did a solid job of getting the car in manageable shape so that Patrick could finish the race, but she was unable to contend for positions in the subsequent restarts and scored a 22nd-place result.
“The car just wouldn’t turn after the wreck,” Patrick said. “I have to thank my Nature’s Bakery team for getting the car fixed so I could finish, and the guys did a great job on pit road all day.”
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, led the four-car SHR contingent Sunday by finishing sixth.
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Chevy Summer Sell Down Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 11th.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 16th.
Kyle Busch won the Brickyard 400 in dominating fashion by leading three times for a race-high 149 laps. Busch survived four late-race restarts that pushed the event into overtime to collect his 38th career Sprint Cup victory, his fourth of the season and his second straight at Indianapolis. Busch’s margin of victory over second-place Matt Kenseth was 2.126 seconds. Finishing third was Jimmie Johnson, while Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson rounded out the top-five. Harvick, Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Austin Dillon and Paul Menard comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were eight caution periods for 34 laps, with seven drivers failing to finish the 170-lap race around the 2.5-mile oval, which went 10 laps past its scheduled 160-lap distance due to a green-white-checkered finish.
With round 20 of 36 complete, Harvick continues to lead SHR and the series in the championship standings. He remains first with 671 points, 24 ahead of second-place Brad Keselowski. Kurt Busch is third with 627 points, 44 behind Harvick. Patrick is 24th with 373 points, 136 ahead of 31st-place Chris Buescher. Stewart is 27th with 317 points, 80 ahead of 31st.
Harvick, Busch and Stewart are all eligible to compete in the 16-driver, 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, which begins after the Sept. 10 race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. All have won a race this season and are among the top-30 in points, the two requirements necessary to secure a spot in the Chase. Patrick can also earn a Chase berth by winning a race and staying inside the top-30. Six races remain before the Chase begins Sept. 18 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Pennsylvania 400 on Sunday, July 31 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. The race begins at 1:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!