• 50°

Johnson’s playoff run ends as Harvick captures 2nd Brickyard

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Jimmy Johnson drove through pit road with his rear bumper dangling off the back, already aware of the consequences when he parked the car.
His chance at ending a 27-month victory drought with a record-tying fifth Brickyard 400 win gone. His quest for a record-breaking eighth series put on hold. And his distinction as the only driver to make every NASCAR playoff since it was adopted in 2004 was history, too.
An almost flawless run Sunday by Kevin Harvick ruined any chance Johnson had of executing his win-to-get-in strategy, and when he hit the wall in the second turn with 55 laps to go at Indianapolis Motor Speedway made it official: Johnson would miss the playoff for the first time.
“Damn, oh, what a bummer and a letdown,” he said on a Twitter post. “I promise you (my fans) we will finish this season strong and be a threat next year in 2020. I just want to thank you for all being there, for your support. Chasing eight will have to wait till next year.”
Harvick beat Joey Logano by 6.118 seconds to claim his second Brickyard win.
But for Johnson, it has been a second straight tough season.
His only victory in an exhibition race in February. He endured two major changes in his pit box, the first coming at the end of last season when Hendrick Motorsports announced Johnson’s longtime crew chief Chad Knaus would be paired with William Byron. In July, Johnson’s team made another change.
Yet, somehow he still entered Sunday two spots and 18 points below the postseason cutline and started the third stage 12 points out.
But with Byron and Johnson running side-by-side off a restart, Johnson’s back end spun, sucking him up the track and into the path of Kurt Busch. Both Chevrolets slammed hard into the wall, starting an eight-car melee that ended the streak just that fast.
“I’ve had 25 races coming into this where I’ve been worried about it,” Johnson said. “I’m not stoked by the situation at all. I am impressed that we have been in 15 consecutive playoffs. I’m not sure anybody else has done that. So, our record doesn’t stink. We wish we could have kept it going, but life goes on.”
With Johnson out, Clint Bowyer, Harvick’s teammate with Stewart-Haas Racing, held onto the 15th spot in the 16-car field. And Ryan Newman, of Roush Fenway Racing, broke a tie for the final spot with Daniel Suarez and put the No. 6 Ford in the playoffs.
Suarez brushed the wall on Lap 12 and then fell four points short of becoming the first Mexican-born driver to qualify for the playoffs in the No. 41 Ford with Haas Automation.
Harvick, meanwhile, had the best car on the 2.5-mile oval this weekend.
He won the pole in the morning, led 118 laps in the afternoon and easily pulled away from Logano over the closing laps for his third win this season.
“This is awesome. I kept telling myself get the baby girl a trophy,” Harvick said. “Good weekend to come, so she doesn’t know what’s going on, just a lot of noise but pretty special.”

Johnson’s early exit put him in good company.
Defending race winner Brad Keselowski wound up climbing out of the cockpit on his knees after his car and Erik Jones’ touched, sending Keselowski sideways into a tire barrier. Keselowski called on speedway officials to consider safety improvements to the 90-degree angle of the wall in hopes of preventing a similar result in the future.
Two-time race winner and regular-season champion Kyle Busch parked his car on pit row after blowing an engine.
In all, there were six crashes and nine yellow flags for 48 laps in the 160-lap race.

After winning the first three “crown jewels” of the NASCAR season, Joe Gibbs Racing was going for an unprecedented single-season sweep Sunday. Instead, Denny Hamlin had the top finishing Toyota for the team, coming in sixth. Jones was 39th , Kyle Busch was 37th and Martin Truex Jr. wound up 27th.


Harvick heads into the playoffs in the No. 4 spot, recording three wins and seven top-10 finishes in the last seven races. He’s also won two poles during that stretch.


The playoffs begin next Sunday in Las Vegas.



RSS superintendent talks district’s future, strategic plan survey


Complaints and fines pile up against unpermitted landfill in southwest Rowan County


Catawba baseball: Crowd comes out to say goodbye to Newman Park


History is a great teacher: Farming has helped shape Rowan County


‘A safe place for them’: Timeless Wigs and Marvelous Things celebrates fifth anniversary

China Grove

County will hear request for more tree houses, hobbit-style homes in China Grove


Livingstone College partners with Health Department to administer 500 Pfizer vaccinations


‘Elite and it shows’: Staff at Partners in Learning at Novant celebrate news of national accreditation


Biz Roundup: Food Lion earns Energy Star award for 20th consecutive year


Ester Marsh: What body type are you?


The queen says goodbye to Philip, continues her reign alone


Worldwide COVID-19 death toll tops a staggering 3 million


US, China agree to cooperate on climate crisis with urgency


Sikh community calls for gun reforms after FedEx shooting

High School

North Rowan romps into second round of football playoffs


FBI had interviewed former FedEx employee who killed eight


Gastonia man sentenced for crash into restaurant that killed his daughter, daughter-in-law


Some call for charges after video of police shooting 13-year-old in Chicago


State unemployment rate falls to 5.2% in March


NASCAR approach to virus vaccine varies greatly


Judge rejects Cherokee challenge against new casino in Kings Mountain


Jackson tops NC Senate fundraising; Walker coffers also full


Kiwanis Pancake Festival serves thousands of flapjacks for charity


Rowan remains in state’s middle, yellow tier for COVID-19 community spread