Kyle Busch sets up showdown with Harvick for NASCAR Cup title

Aubrey Yates
November 15, 2018

Chevrolet was shut out of the finale. We took a seventh or eighth-place vehicle and the next thing you know we were in position to win the race.

"So, it wasn't like we could freeze the race right there and make that situation happen, but it wouldn't have upset me if it didn't happen, but we weren't going to do anything to make it happen".

Busch and Harvick have gone win-for-win all year, and Busch could have controlled Harvick's fate late in the race when he was lined up against Harvick's teammate, Aric Almirola, on a restart. An Almirola victory would have eliminated Harvick from the playoffs, which Busch acknowledged considering.

"I did think about it", Busch said. "You always want to have good momentum on your side".

Kyle Busch takes the checkered flag at ISM Raceway.

"Erik Jones was on my inside when we restarted, and I just wanted to make sure I didn't slip through the new (Turns) 1 and 2", Busch said after exiting the infield care center. "We've got to be able to go out there and perform and just do what we need to do".

"Obviously, I ran through all the scenarios in my mind of what could happen and what had to happen for each vehicle, but it was much more stressful than I thought", Stewart told on his "Happy Hours" show Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Harvick was the favorite to win Sunday and started from the pole, but an early flat tire made the race more eventful than he expected.

While other teams did replace spoilers when the garage opened Friday, Harvick's Stewart-Haas Racing team operated under a cloud of having manufactured a piece that teams are supposed to buy from a supplier.

"I thought we were a seventh-to sixth-place vehicle, and that's what I thought we were yesterday (in practice), too", Almirola said on pit road, after getting a consoling hug from team owner Tony Stewart. "We just needed to stay out of trouble and try to find a safe spot there".

Finishing second Sunday was non-contender Brad Keselowski of Team Penske, while Chip Ganassi Racing's Kyle Larson took third. After the 40-point penalty, Harvick is now fourth in the standings, just three points ahead of teammate Kurt Busch. His winning auto from last week was found to have an illegal spoiler and the punishment cost him his automatic berth into the final four. The penalty is old news to him and he's not looking back.

Harvick is a nine-time victor at Phoenix, most recently in March.

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That put Harvick back in 30th and one lap down, and he had to work his way back to the front.

Busch was forced to defend his lead from Aric Almirola on the final two restarts, coming with 16 and 12 laps to go, respectively. Kurt Busch also had been penalized early in the race for passing the pace auto.

Busch tweeted, "We're heading home with a trophy, then on to Miami to race for a championship!".

Ultimately, it was mistakes on pit road that derailed the championship hopes for both Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin on Sunday during the Can-Am 500 at ISM Raceway in Phoenix.Both drivers led at.

"Denny came out of nowhere and cleaned us out", said Kurt Busch.

Stewart-Haas Racing had a disastrous sequence that cost two of its drivers a shot at the championship.

Almirola dove to the bottom of the track to slip past Harvick and move into second. He started second on a restart behind leader Kyle Busch with 12 laps remaining, but could not keep up.

LOGANO CRASHES: Logano had a short day at Phoenix because his left rear tire went flat and caused him to spin.

"I'm just really thankful for this group and these guys on the Smithfield team are awesome".

Logano bumped Truex out of his way in the final turn at Martinsville Speedway two weeks ago to win the race and earn the automatic berth. After Sunday's race, the championship-eligible field will be trimmed from eight to the four drivers who will race for a title November 18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Elliott won the race off pit road, while J.J.

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