Heading into Sunday’s Crown Royal Presents the Curtiss Shaver 400 at the Brickyard Powered by Big Machine Records, several NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams had yet to visit victory lane at Indianapolis Motor Speedway since NASCAR began heading to the storied tack back in 1994. But all those teams were, yet again, shut out of victory lane and denied the opportunity to kiss the yard of bricks at the start/finish line by Hendrick Motorsports.
After a domianting performance that saw Hendrick driver Jimmie Johnson lead 99 laps of the 160 that made up the race, Johnson won for the fourth-time at Indianapolis to tie teammate Jeff Gordon for most all-time wins at the track and give car owner Rick Hendrick his eighth Brickyard win.
“That victory lap, going around the track, is really special,” Johnson said in victory lane.
Three Hendrick Motorsports drivers finished in the top-five, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. finishing fourth and Gordon fifth. With his fourth-place finish, Earnhardt took the points lead from Matt Kenseth.
“We’d like to win more races, though,” Earnhardt said.
Kenseth’s No. 17 was collected by the spinning No. 20 car of Joey Logano with 28 laps to go, taking Kenseth out of the race.
“The farther we got back (in the field), the dumber people drove,” Kenseth said after the incident.
Denny Hamlin started the race from the pole and led several laps early, until Johnson beat him off pit road during a cycle of green-flag pit stops around lap 25. For much of the remainder of the race, Johnson was in command.
Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 team got off sequence somewhat with their pit stops, hoping a slightly different strategy would set them apart from everyone else. As a result, Keselowski led for several laps multiple times, but the advantage of his strategy flew out the window when he lost several positions on a restart following a caution that came out with 67 laps to go. By the end of the race, he had dropped back to ninth.
Kyle Busch finished second, and Greg Biffle was third.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR
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