Harvick takes Texas to clinch championship spot

Aubrey Yates
November 7, 2018

Drivers race down the front stretch as the green flag drops during the NASCAR MENCS AAA Texas 500 auto race at Texas Motor Speedway, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, in Fort Worth, Texas.

Harvick blew past Ryan Blaney on the overtime restart and secured his spot in the championship by defending his title in the race.

With only one race remaining until the Championship deciding race at Homestead, only two spots remain in the championship four as Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick have punched their tickets with wins at Martinsville and Texas.

Yet in nearly five seasons at SHR, Harvick has won 22 races - almost as many has he won in the first 13 years of his career (23), including his first series championship (2014).

With Harvick and Martinsville victor Joey Logano in the No. 22 Ford of Team Penske locked in, the series goes to Phoenix next week with only two spots up for grabs for the championship run at Homestead. Truex, who was close to clinching a title spot before that bump-and-run by Logano on the final lap to win at Martinsville last week, finished ninth.

After scoring the third-place result in the second stage it appeared that Truex would be one of the drivers to contend for the overall win. But he's winless this season, just signed a new sponsor and went to Texas with just three races remaining with Chad Knaus, the crew chief who built his team in 2001.

The first hiccup for Truex was starting the 334-lap race from the rear of the field due to an engine change following Saturday's final practice.

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Other Notables: #2 Brad Keselowski P12, #88 Alex Bowman P14, #48 Jimmie Johnson P15, #24 William Byron P16, #18 Kyle Busch P17, #14 Clint Bowyer P26, #11 Denny Hamlin P30. The last one, he took the top, like I knew he was going to go. "We want to earn it", said Harvick, who led 177 of 337 laps.

Harvick was on the inside again for the next restart, but Blaney was able to get by him for the lead. "Today we earned our way in, and we're going to race again next week (at Phoenix) and try to win another race and then see what we can do at Homestead". Harvick and Blaney would then pit on the next lap, Logano also coming in on trip number 284 "round TMS. On the short run, they (Fords) were really fast, but on the long run I thought we were as good as anybody, but just never got to show it. Track position was so hard to get". Logano already has a slot in the final four and Almirola believed Logano could have backed off a bit.

"I think our team has been kind of that rock that sets the foundation at Stewart-Haas Racing", he said.

"Just traffic was so bad and so hard to pass". "When Homestead comes around, if I'm not in, he'll know it".

"There's no question", Truex said after the race.

"That's how you control your destiny the most is to get in Victory Lane", Harvick said. Tune in to NBC on Sunday, November 11 at 2:30 p.m. ET for the live broadcast of the race from ISM Raceway to find out.

The victory was Harvick's first since MI in August, and it broke a streak of bad luck during which the driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford led laps but failed to find Victory Lane, thanks to mechanical issues or pit road mistakes. Buescher's JTG-Daugherty organization is using a Hendrick Motorsports engine for the first time next season.

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