ThatsRacin

NASCAR: Results and 3 takeaways from the Cup Series race at Indianapolis

NASCAR Cup Series driver Brad Keselowski (2) kisses the yard of bricks on the start/finish line after winning the NASCAR Brickyard 400 on Monday.
NASCAR Cup Series driver Brad Keselowski (2) kisses the yard of bricks on the start/finish line after winning the NASCAR Brickyard 400 on Monday. AP

Brad Keselowski won the Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard on Monday, his second win of the season, but there are other implications from the race as well. Here are the three biggest takeaways from Monday’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

1. The playoff field is (finally) set

At long last, we’re finally through with the NASCAR Cup Series regular season. And isn’t it about time? The first 26 races are fun and all, but we’ve known for weeks how the playoffs would shake out – it’s just been a process of waiting. Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman locked in their spots to the playoffs by virtue of ... nobody else below them winning? Either way, it’s nice to finally be into the home stretch of the season, and to finally start focusing on the 16 best drivers.

2. What’s up with the Big 3?

It has been three weeks in a row the Big 3 of Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, and Martin Truex Jr. have not won a race, which is also the longest stretch this season without any of them winning. Is that a sign they’re slipping? Are they bound for playoff disappointment? It’s definitely too early to say either of those, and probably too early to be worried at all (especially considering Harvick and Busch both finished in the top 10 Monday), but it’s still something worth monitoring as we get into these elimination races.

3. Can Brad Keselowski complete the playoff repeat from last season?

Last season’s Championship 4: Truex, Busch, Harvick, and Keselowski. The top four in the points standings at the end of the regular season? The same foursome, albeit in a slightly different order. If the Big 3 was the story of this season, then the top secondary story has to be who would be joining them among the championship favorites. Clint Bowyer made an appearance, as have Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson, and even Chase Elliott at times ... but now, when the season is truly starting to flip, Kez is showing he’s a formidable contender. Like all those before him, lets not crown him too quickly, but Keselowski is absolutely proving he belongs in the conversation alongside the Big 3.

The full race results, from the Associated Press:

Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard

Monday

At Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Indianapolis

Lap length: 2.50 miles

Fin.

St

Driver

Car

Laps

*

1

6

Brad Keselowski

Ford

160

2

13

Erik Jones

Toyota

160

3

10

Denny Hamlin

Toyota

160

4

2

Kevin Harvick

Ford

160

5

8

Clint Bowyer

Ford

160

6

4

Kurt Busch

Ford

160

7

21

Jamie McMurray

Chevrolet

160

8

1

Kyle Busch

Toyota

160

9

19

Paul Menard

Ford

160

10

17

Ryan Newman

Chevrolet

160

11

9

Ryan Blaney

Ford

160

12

29

Matt Kenseth

Ford

160

13

5

Joey Logano

Ford

160

14

7

Kyle Larson

Chevrolet

160

15

11

Chase Elliott

Chevrolet

160

16

14

Jimmie Johnson

Chevrolet

160

17

26

Michael McDowell

Ford

160

18

20

Daniel Suarez

Toyota

160

19

22

William Byron

Chevrolet

160

20

27

Regan Smith

Chevrolet

160

21

30

Ty Dillon

Chevrolet

160

22

18

Austin Dillon

Chevrolet

160

23

12

Aric Almirola

Ford

159

24

25

David Ragan

Ford

159

25

23

Chris Buescher

Chevrolet

158

26

32

Ross Chastain

Chevrolet

158

27

33

Corey LaJoie

Chevrolet

158

28

38

Reed Sorenson

Chevrolet

158

29

35

JJ Yeley

Toyota

157

30

40

BJ McLeod

Ford

157

31

34

Landon Cassill

Chevrolet

150

1

32

37

Jeffrey Earnhardt

Toyota

150

1

33

15

Alex Bowman

Chevrolet

142

34

16

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Ford

136

2

35

39

Timmy Hill

Toyota

124

3

36

31

Matt DiBenedetto

Ford

89

4

37

24

AJ Allmendinger

Chevrolet

66

1

38

28

Bubba Wallace

Chevrolet

57

1

39

36

David Starr

Chevrolet

57

1

40

3

Martin Truex Jr.

Toyota

41

5

*Reason out: 1-Accident, 2-Engine, 3-Fuel Pump, 4-Rear End, 5-Brakes.

Race Statistics

Average Speed of Race Winner: 128.629 mph.

Time of Race: 3 Hours, 6 Minutes, 35 Seconds. Margin of Victory: 0.904 Seconds.

Caution Flags: 10 for 39 laps.

Lead Changes: 14 among 9 drivers.

Lap Leaders: Kyle Busch 1-11; D. Hamlin 12-32; Kurt Busch 33-44; C. Bowyer 45-51; Kyle Busch 52-67; K. Harvick 68-89; C. Bowyer 90-96; M. Kenseth 97-101; W. Byron 102-104; C. Bowyer 105-127; R. Blaney 128; Kurt Busch 129-135; B. Keselowski 136-142; D. Hamlin 143-158; B. Keselowski 159-160.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): C. Bowyer 3 times for 37 laps; D. Hamlin 2 times for 37 laps; Kyle Busch 2 times for 27 laps; K. Harvick 1 time for 22 laps; Kurt Busch 2 times for 19 laps; B. Keselowski 2 times for 9 laps; M. Kenseth 1 time for 5 laps; W. Byron 1 time for 3 laps; R. Blaney 1 time for 1 lap.

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