Monday, September 9, 2019


The road for the championship to Miami is officially here! The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs fires up this weekend at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Kevin Harvick captured the win in Sunday’s Big Machine Vodka Brickyard 400, kissing the bricks for the second time in his career. Seizing his third victory of the season, Harvick will commence the playoffs at Las Vegas in the fourth position with 2028 points.

Everyone was eyeing for seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson. A former winner of the Brickyard 400, Johnson qualified fifth and was running in the top-15 for the majority of the race.

Unfortunately for the El Cajon, California native, Johnson was involved in an incident at the start of the final Stage that ended his day and chances to race for a championship in the postseason.
“Certainly disappointing,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately, we had about 25 races that led to the position that we were in today. We needed a stellar day and I think we were having a strong day. Just really proud of my team and where we’re at and what’s been going on.”

A hot story heading into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the playoff bubble. Who will take the last two spots? After some feud between Daniel Suarez and Ryan Newman the weekend prior at Darlington Raceway, the question was whether any of it would translate to Indy.

The fight for the final spot in the playoffs was tight throughout the day and occasionally back and forth. On Lap 10, Suarez made contact with the wall coming off of a turn forcing him to pit on Lap 11 to assess the damage.

For Suarez fans, the incident was worrisome knowing that Indy is a high-downforce track and any damage to the body can hurt your momentum of speed. Fortunately, the No. 41 crew did a fine job fixing up Suarez’s Ford Mustang and he ultimately finished sixth by the end of Stage 2.

Suarez was satisfied with his car after the repairs and showed no signs of slowing down. In fact, he was racing ahead of Neman at the start of the final Stage, restarting in sixth while Newman launched in 11th.

As Newman ran in 13th before the caution came out on Lap 128, Suarez made a scheduled green-flag pit stop on Lap 127 for four tires and fuel after running in the fifth position. A caution came out on Lap 129 resulting Suarez to go a lap down.

Newman would go on and take advantage of the uncontrolled circumstances that hurt the No. 41 team and restart ahead of the Mexican-born driver. In the closing laps, the race for the final spot began to heat up.

Suarez was able to run up to 11th by the end of the race thanks to two cautions within the closing laps. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to catch Newman.

Newman brought home his No. 6 Acorns Ford Mustang in the eighth position, locking himself into the 2019 NASCAR Playoffs.

“I guess if you look at our roster there are more new people on our team together for the first time than all the other teams put together,” Newman said following the race. “I am proud that we were able to take that and use our collective experience of our own knowledge from places and things we have done and turn that into a playoff position. Now we just have to do something with it.”

As for Suarez, he failed to make the playoffs giving the last two spots to his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Clint Bowyer and Roush Fenway Racings Ryan Newman.

“I feel like after that the day went smooth, other than getting caught in the pit road cycle on the last stop,” Suarez commented on the early race incident. “That made us lose all our track position, and it was very difficult to overcome that. We fought hard. We made it all the way back to 11th, and I feel like if we had 15 more laps I was going to get the 6 (of Ryan Newman), but that is racing. It just wasn’t meant to be.”

The final race before the playoffs displayed another chaotic event at the historic Indianapolis track. Closing its doors on the final race prior to the playoffs, it’s safe to say that some fans were impressed with Sunday’s turn of events.

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the South Point 400 on Sunday, Sept. 15 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It is the first race of the 10-race playoffs and starts at 7 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.