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Year-By-Year Brickyard 400 Race Recaps: 2010s

Thursday, June 18, 2020 Paul Kelly and Zach Horrall, Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Year-By-Year Brickyard 400 Race Recaps: 2010s

One year after enduring a race of crushing disappointment, team owner Chip Ganassi returned to Victory Lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, this time for the first time in NASCAR competition.


One year after enduring a race of crushing disappointment, team owner Chip Ganassi returned to Victory Lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, this time for the first time in NASCAR competition.

Jamie McMurray continued his dream season with his first Brickyard victory in an Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. He also won the season-opening Daytona 500 to join Dale Jarrett and Jimmie Johnson as the only drivers to achieve that elite NASCAR “double” in the same season.

More impressively, Ganassi became the first team owner to sweep arguably the three biggest oval races in America – the Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 – in the same season. Dario Franchitti won in May for Ganassi.

But once again it looked like Juan Pablo Montoya would be the first Ganassi driver to win this race and deliver the “Chip Sweep.” Montoya led McMurray by more than three seconds when a yellow flag flew for debris on Lap 139.

During the ensuing pit stops, McMurray, 2003 Brickyard winner Kevin Harvick and most leading teams decided to take just two tires. Montoya’s team decided on four tires, and he fell to ninth place on the restart on Lap 143.

Montoya was poised to charge toward the front with more fresh rubber and a faster car than his rivals. But he slid out of the racing groove and hit the SAFER Barrier on Lap 147, collecting fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the wreck. Montoya ended up 32nd.

Harvick passed McMurray for the lead on Lap 145 and led the field on the final restart, on Lap 150. But McMurray drove past Harvick for the top spot on that lap and beat Harvick to the finish by 1.391 seconds.


Paul Menard entered the 2011 Brickyard 400 as the lowest-profile member of Richard Childress Racing, which also fielded cars for 2003 Brickyard winner Kevin Harvick and multi-time Cup Series race winners Jeff Burton and Clint Bowyer.

Menard was 0-for-166 in his Cup career entering that race, but he ended the day in Victory Lane with arguably the most surprising win in the event’s history, beating Brickyard legend Jeff Gordon to the finish by .725 of a second.

Cup Series stars Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne flexed the biggest muscles early, combining to lead 70 laps before Menard first led on Lap 82.

While the first half of the race was a full-throated power play with no concern for fuel, two debris cautions – on Lap 95 and again on Lap 115 – transformed the race into a strategic showdown. Menard and crew chief “Slugger” Labbe calculated brilliantly.

Labbe urged Menard to save fuel, ordering Menard to let 2010 Jamie McMurray take the lead with nine laps to go because Labbe was convinced McMurray didn’t have enough gas to make the finish without a stop. Labbe finally let Menard stand on the gas with full throttle with four laps to go, and Menard quickly passed McMurray for the lead.

McMurray faded to fourth, and Gordon became the newest threat after rallying from 12 seconds behind the lead after a late fuel stop. But Menard drove perfectly over the final four laps to deliver an emotional first victory at IMS to his father, home improvement store magnate John Menard, who had sponsored and fielded cars in the Indianapolis 500 for more than two decades from the 1980s into the 2000s.


It was hard to believe during the late afternoon of July 29, 2012 that Jimmie Johnson once struggled at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Johnson dominated the 2012 Brickyard 400, earning his record-tying fourth victory in just seven starts since his first win in 2006. That initial win came after two finishes of 36th or worse in his first four starts at IMS and only one top-10.

Those days felt like a distant memory after the 2012 race. Johnson led an event-high 99 of 160 laps in the No. 48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet and beat Kyle Busch to the finish line by 4.758 seconds.

Johnson started sixth and wasted no time driving to the front. He first took the lead on Lap 29 and proved his dominance during long stretches. His first four stints as the leader lasted 13, 26, six and 25 laps, respectively.

Like all of Johnson’s rivals, Greg Biffle knew a strategy shift might be the only way to win. So Biffle took two tires during the final pit stops, while Johnson and the rest of the leaders took four.

Biffle led on the final restart, on Lap 130, but Johnson ripped past him two laps later and never trailed again as he drove into history.


Ryan Newman’s NASCAR Cup Series career reached a crossroads just two weeks before the 2013 Brickyard 400, as he learned he would not be retained by Stewart-Haas Racing for the 2014 season.

So, Indiana native Newman brushed up his resume for prospective car owners the best way possible: He earned his first Brickyard victory from the pole.

Newman grabbed the biggest win of his career since capturing the 2008 Daytona 500 by holding off the hottest driver at IMS for the seven previous years – four-time and reigning Brickyard winner Jimmie Johnson.

Johnson led a race-high 73 laps and appeared to have the fastest car. But his final pit stop, with 27 laps to go, was a bit slower than his rivals. Newman capitalized on that rare miscue by the Hendrick crew, taking just two tires on his final stop to climb to the lead after the field cycled through green-flag pit stops.

Newman led the last 12 laps of the race in the third-fastest Brickyard race in history, crossing the finish line with an average speed of 153.485 mph. The win secured Newman’s status among the elite drivers in NASCAR.

Newman, a South Bend, Indiana, native and graduate of Purdue University, became the third Hoosier to win the iconic NASCAR race, along with Tony Stewart and former Indiana resident Jeff Gordon.


Jeff Gordon dominated the first 11 years of NASCAR Cup Series racing at Indianapolis, winning the Brickyard 400 a record four times between 1994 and 2004.

But in the nine races since his fourth victory, Gordon’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson became the main man at Indy, also earning four wins between 2006-12. Gordon was nearing his 43rd birthday on Brickyard Race Day in 2014, near the twilight of his Hall of Fame career. Many thought it would be Johnson, not Gordon, who became the first five-time winner of an oval event at the world’s most famous racetrack, which opened in 1909.

Former Indiana resident Gordon thought overwise. He turned back the clock in 2014 and produced what he called one of the greatest restarts of his life to earn his fifth Brickyard victory, cementing his legacy as the greatest stock car driver ever at IMS.

After late pit stops, former USAC open-wheel star Kasey Kahne cycled to the lead on Lap 131. The final caution period of the race took place from Laps 140-143, bunching the field behind leader Kahne.

The ensuing, and final, restart would prove pivotal. Restarts were not Gordon’s strong suit, but he knew he had to find a way past Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kahne quickly and get his No. 24 Axalta Coatings Chevrolet into clean air.

When the green flag flew on Lap 144, Gordon nailed the restart. He powered past Kahne in Turn 1 and began to pull away toward immortality, leading the last 17 laps and beating Kyle Busch to the finish by 2.325 seconds. History was his.


The bad breaks were just a memory for Kyle Busch after his dominant drive to victory in the 2015 Brickyard 400.

Busch continued his comeback after missing 11 races early in the season due to a broken leg and ankle suffered in a crash in February at Daytona, becoming the first driver to sweep the Xfinity Series and Cup Series races in the same weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He also exorcised the demons of two runner-up finishes at the Brickyard, in 2012 and 2014.

Kevin Harvick dominated long stretches of the race, leading an event-high 75 laps. Busch led for eight laps from Lap 85-92 but never was in front again until Lap 153 of the scheduled 160 laps, passing Harvick on a restart.

But the fun was just starting. The caution flag flew again on Lap 156 due to debris, and Busch kept the lead on the restart on Lap 159.

Trevor Bayne was punted into the Turn 1 SAFER Barrier from behind on the restart, triggering the ninth and final caution period of the race and the first green-white-checkered “overtime” finish in this event since 2004.

On the final restart, Busch powered past Joey Logano and held off Logano by just .332 of a second over the final two laps for victory.


NASCAR legends and multi-time Brickyard winners Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart were the emotional favorites for many in the crowd on July 24, 2016 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as the two superstars were making their final Brickyard starts. Gordon was called in as a substitute for the injured Dale Earnhardt Jr., while Stewart had announced he was retiring as a Cup Series driver after the 2016 season.

But Kyle Busch was just too good to let any sentiment enter the winning equation.

Busch completed the most dominant stock car weekend ever by a driver at IMS in style, winning the Brickyard 400 from the pole in the No. 18 Skittles Toyota. He also won the Xfinity Series race the previous day from the pole.

The victory ensured Busch became just the second driver to win in consecutive years at the Brickyard, joining Jimmie Johnson in 2008 and 2009.

While the race needed 170 laps – 10 more than scheduled – and two “overtime” attempts to achieve a green-flag finish, the outcome rarely was in doubt. Busch led an event-record 149 laps, including the last 109 trips around the 2.5-mile oval. It was the most crushing performance by a winner in Brickyard history.

While Busch drove into Victory Lane, Gordon and Stewart gave the fans one final thrill. They drove one final, side-by-side cooldown lap together in mutual tribute to their great careers, sailing into the Brickyard sunset.


The 2017 Brickyard 400 was, no doubt, the wildest of the then-23 editions of the NASCAR classic at Indy.

Former USAC open-wheel star Kasey Kahne emerged from pure chaos over the last 17 laps to earn the biggest victory of his career and end a 102-race winless streak that dated to August 2014. The victory also was the record 10th for Hendrick Motorsports in this race and the first for the team not recorded either by Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson.

Maybe it was destiny that this would be a wild affair. The first of three red flags flew just 11 laps into the 160-lap race when a vicious thunderstorm rolled through Central Indiana.

The race resumed after a delay of one hour, 47 minutes, and Kyle Busch won the first two segments of NASCAR’s new stage racing system that made its IMS debut. It appeared that series points leader Martin Truex Jr. was the only driver who could halt Busch from an unprecedented third consecutive Brickyard victory.

Then everything changed on Lap 111. Truex hit Busch while they battled for the lead on the restart. Both drivers crashed in Turn 1, and the two fastest cars on the property were out of the race.

Drivers and crew chiefs began to play the fuel strategy games typical to the Brickyard over the closing laps. But all those calculations flew off their pit boxes on Lap 151 when Clint Bowyer triggered a four-car crash on the front straight that also collected Kurt Busch, Erik Jones and 2010 winner Jamie McMurray. The red flag flew for the second time for cleanup.

Kahne pitted from third just as that accident unfolded, and he emerged with the lead on Lap 152.

Kahne, Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski gave the crowd an unforgettable duel for the lead as they went three-wide for the lead into Turn 3 on Lap 159, with Johnson the odd man out after spinning into the SAFER Barrier after contact with Kahne, who then tapped Keselowski in a high-speed game of dominoes.

That triggered a caution period on Lap 160 and NASCAR’s “overtime.” Then one of the biggest crashes in Brickyard history unfolded on the restart on Lap 163, when Michael McDowell nudged Trevor Bayne on the restart, collecting six other cars and turning the front straight into a tangled thicket of crumpled cars and crushed dreams.

The last of the three red flags during the race flew for cleanup, with Keselowski as the leader for the second “green-white-checkered” attempt. The final restart, on Lap 166, came at 8:49 p.m., just 17 minutes before sunset.

Kahne dove under Keselowski for the lead in Turn 1 and started to pull away. Meanwhile, a three-car crash behind the leaders, involving Denny Hamlin, Ty Dillon and Paul Menard, caused Kahne to take the white and yellow flag together, sealing his victory.

Just 11 minutes before the official sunset in Indianapolis, Kahne crossed under the checkered flag with a mixture of exhaustion and exhilaration in the craziest NASCAR race ever at IMS. He needed intravenous fluids in the IU Health Emergency Medical Center before he could drink in all the spoils of victory at the Brickyard.


The 25th edition of one of NASCAR’s Crown Jewel races marked the first time legendary Indianapolis 500 team owner Roger Penske visited victory lane in the Brickyard 400 as Brad Keselowski captured the win on Monday, Sept. 10.

The race was delayed one day by rain, but that didn’t halt the on-track action for the race that moved to September and stood as the end to the NASCAR regular season.

Keselowski capitalized on late-race pit strategy calls by crew chief Paul Wolfe. Wolfe called Keselowski and his No. 2 Discount Tire Ford to pit road from the lead shortly before two late-race cautions. The series of cautions allowed Keselowski to work his way back through the field and sit third on the final restart on Lap 158 of 160.

Denny Hamlin led on the restart, but Keselowsk stayed locked to the rear bumper of the No. 11. On lap 159, Keselowski made a move to the inside of Hamlin down the backstretch. The two drivers door-slammed each other as they approached Turn 3 trying to gain an advantage.

Keselowski and Hamlin raced side-by-side through Turn 3 until they traded paint yet again. Off Turn 4, Keselowski cleared Hamlin and set his sights on the white flag that was waving in front of him.

Keselowski led nine laps total and beat Erik Jones to the finish by 0.904 of a second.

As Will Power captured the Indy 500 in 2018, the win marked the second time in history that the same team owner won the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400 in the same season, which was a first for Team Penske. Chip Ganassi accomplished the feat in 2010.


Kevin Harvick joined an exclusive club of multi-time winners at Indianapolis Motor Speedway by dominating an electric Brickyard 400 from the pole on Sunday, Sept. 8.

Harvick led a race-high 118 laps in his No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford on his way to his second win at the Brickyard, where he joined Kyle Busch, Dale Jarrett and co-owner Tony Stewart as two-time NASCAR winners at IMS. The win came 16 years after his first trip to Victory Lane at Indy in 2003, the largest gap between NASCAR winners at Indianapolis.

While Harvick, the 2014 series champion, was up front all day, the win didn’t come easy and had a deceptively wide margin of victory. The race’s nine cautions for 48 laps forced Harvick to play defense against the field all day on restarts.

His most epic defense came on the final restart with nine laps to go. Harvick lined up on the outside lane for the late-race restart with Joey Logano to his inside.

The two drivers raced side-by-side through Turns 1 and 2 and down the backstretch, with Logano racing inches from the backstretch grass. Entering Turn 3, Logano had the edge on Harvick on the inside line. But, Harvick had the preferred line and cleared Logano exiting Turn 3 as the crowd roared for Harvick.

Harvick beat 2018 NASCAR Cup Series champion Logano to the Yard of Bricks by 6.118 seconds, the widest margin of victory in race history.