INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Kevin Harvick’s nearly flawless run Sunday ruined any chance of Jimmie Johnson executing his in-and-in playoff strategy.
A crash with 55 laps to go made it official: Johnson’s perfect postseason record is over.
On a day Harvick won the pole, led all but 42 laps and raced to his second Brickyard 400 victory, Johnson pulled his familiar No. 48 car through pit road and parked it in Gasoline Alley — without a playoff spot for the first time since NASCAR introduced the format in 2004.
“I think our car had good pace. Just these restarts are so crazy with this rules package,” the seven-time Cup champion said after being released from the infield medical center. “Everybody’s trying to get everything they can and we came out on the bad side of the deal there in turn two.”
The result: Clint Bowyer and Ryan Newman claimed the final two spots in the 16-driver field, and Daniel Suarez fell four points short of becoming the first Mexican-born driver to make the playoffs that begin next weekend in Las Vegas.
Harvick beat Joey Logano by 6.118 seconds.
Johnson wasn’t the only driver having trouble at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
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. Neither driver was seriously injured. Two-time race winner and regular-season champion Kyle Busch parked his car on pit road after blowing an engine.
Johnson started the day 18th in points, two spots and 18 points below the cutline and was still down 12 points when the third and final stage began. Then came an eight-car melee that ended Johnson’s long-shot effort.
It started with Johnson and William Byron running side-by-side through the second turn. Johnson’s car spun in front of Kurt Busch, sending both into the outside wall.
It was one of six crashes in a race that had 48 of 160 laps run under caution.
Harvick’s No. 4 Ford was the best car on the 2.5-mile oval. He won the pole in the morning, led 118 laps in the and crossed the famed yard of bricks first. Harvick also won the race in 2003.
Nationals 9, Braves 4
ATLANTA (AP) — Max Scherzer (10-5) won for the first time in two months, Juan Soto homered and Washington stopped Atlanta’s nine-game winning streak, the Braves’ longest in five years.
Scherzer (10-5) allowed one run and two hits in six innings with nine strikeouts. He had not gotten a decision in four starts since beating Kansas City on July 6, a span that included nearly a month on the injured list because of a bad back.
Yan Gomes homered twice, and Adam Eaton and Asdrúbal Cabrera each had three RBIs to help Washington end a four-game skid. The Nationals are nine games back of the NL East-leading Braves wbut opened a three-game lead over the Cubs for the top NL wild card.
Mike Soroka (11-4) gave up four runs and seven hits in six innings.
Rangers 10, Orioles 4
BALTIMORE (AP) — Rookie Nick Solak had three hits and four RBIs, Ronald Guzmán and Rougned Odor homered and Texas completed its first four-game sweep at Baltimore since July 1972 at Memorial Stadium.
Playing in his 19th big league game, Solak has six RBIs against Baltimore and five against everyone else.
Mike Minor (13-8) allowed two runs over eight innings.
Texas had 20 hits off Asher Wojciechowski (2-8) and six relievers.