Harvick takes advantage of Hamlin’s crash to win Brickyard

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Race driver Kevin Harvick celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Sunday, July 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

INDIANAPOLIS – Kevin Harvick turned up the pressure on Denny Hamlin late in the Brickyard 400.

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

As the sun set Sunday over Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Hamlin seven laps from one of the few victories that has eluded him, he went careening into the first turn wall with a flat right front-side tire, and Harvick beat Matt Kenseth off the final restart to win his second straight Brickyard.

“We had great tire wear today, so I was able to really push my car as hard as I could," Harvick said after his third 400 title. “I was able to push him a little harder that last run than earlier in the race and when the sun went down the track was cooling and speeds were going up in the turns."

The strategy worked out perfectly — just like Stewart-Haas Racing's holiday weekend.

Not only did Harvey race to his 53rd victory to move within one of tying Lee Petty for 11th on NASCAR's career list, teammates Aric Almirola and Cole Custer, a rookie, finished third and fifth Sunday. Fellow Stewart-Haas driver Chase Briscoe won the Xfinity Series race Saturday or the road course.

Harvick tied Hamlin with a season-high fourth victoy and lead in the points. The California driver has four straight top-10 finishes.

And for the third straight race, it looked as if it would be another one-two finish for Harvick and Hamlin.