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Harvick takes advantage of Hamlin’s crash to win

Auto racing

INDIANAPOLIS — Kevin Harvick turned up the heat on Denny Hamlin late in the Brickyard 400.

And on a cooling track, Hamlin’s worn tires simply gave out.

With the sun setting Sunday over Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Hamlin seven laps from victory, he went careening into the first turn wall, and Harvick beat Matt Kenseth off the final restart to pull away.

“We knew he was really close on tires so (crew chief) Rodney (Childers) said on the radio to keep the pressure on him,” Harvick said. “It’s the Brickyard, this is what I grew up wanting to do so to come here and win for the third time is something I couldn’t have dreamed up.”

Harvick won for the 53rd time to move within one of tying Lee Petty for 11th on NASCAR’s career list, and it gave Stewart-Haas Racing a sweep of the weekend following Chase Briscoe’s win Saturday in the Xfinity Series race.

For the third straight race, Harvick and Hamlin were in a league of their own.

Until the stunning twist as the sun was setting over the historic 2.5-mile oval, it looked is if Harvick and Hamlin would sweep the top two spots for the third consecutive race.

How good have they been?

Each has won four times, tied for the most in the series. And since racing resumed at Darlington in mid-May, Hamlin and Harvick have combined to win seven of 12 races.

But the crash ended Hamlin’s run of four straight top-five finishes with Joe Gibbs Racing.

“It’s just, it’s tough. I hate it for the FedEx team,” Hamlin said. “It was just kind of roulette if it stays together or not and mine didn’t.”

NASCAR’s weather problems continued, too, with the start delayed 55 minutes because of lightning strikes within an eight-mile radius of the track.

On Lap 16, the race was red-flagged briefly after a six-car pileup near the entrance of pit road. Five of those involved didn’t finish the race and each was checked at the infield medical center and was released.

But NASCAR officials said Ryan Blaney’s tire changer, Zachary Price, was transported to a hospital after getting pinned between Blaney’s car and another. Price appeared to be smiling as he was placed on a stretcher before he was taken away in an ambulance.

Blaney continued racing in the No. 12 Ford and Justin Allgaier got in three more laps before calling it a day. Allgaier replaced Jimmie Johnson in the No. 48 after Johnson tested positive for coronavirus on Friday.

Elsewhere:

n Chase Briscoe put on four new tires during a late pit-stop Saturday, then held off AJ Allmendinger and Austin Cindric over the final five laps to win the first Xfinity Series race on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course.

n Scott Dixon finally made his second trip to Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s victory lane. Twelve years after winning his only Indianapolis 500 on the Brickyard’s historic 2.5-mile oval, the five-time series champion added a second title Saturday — this one by a dominant 19.9469 seconds over Graham Rahal in the IndyCar Grand Prix.

n Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday while Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late time penalty.

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