Published: Thu, November 08, 2018
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Harvick Earns Shot at NASCAR Title With Victory in Texas

Harvick Earns Shot at NASCAR Title With Victory in Texas

Kevin Harvick pulled away from the field during an overtime restart to win the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, earning his eighth victory of the year and a guaranteed spot in the Championship 4 final round of NASCAR's playoffs. "Today we earned our way in and we're going to go and race again next week and try to win another race and see what we can do at Homestead". He cleared Blaney on the first restart but lost the lead on the second one and had to track Blaney down to take the lead back. Ryan Blaney was the runner-up. Harvick said that he thought if he could prevent him from concluding the corner, he could drive back by him. "It all worked out".

Harvick and Joey Logano will make up half of the championship field in two weeks in Florida while the other two spots will be set next weekend in Arizona. It is the 2014 NASCAR Cup champion's fourth appearance in the playoff finale in the past five seasons. Kevin Harvick handed over the checkered flag to young fan he called on to the track to pose for a selfies, one with the triumphant driver and auto that will have a shot at another NASCAR Cup championship.

When asked at Texas if everything was cool with Truex, or if his head would be on a swivel looking around, Logano said only time would tell.

Below the cutline after Texas are Kurt Busch (-25 point from fourth), Chase Elliott (-39), Aric Almirola (-57) and Bowyer (-73). Logano ran third at Texas after leading 54 laps, second only to Harvick.

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Clint Bowyer, who started on the front row but had contact with Denny Hamlin on the first lap, was the only of the remaining title contenders outside of the top 10. Harvick was already starting to rebuild his lead - it had been almost 4 seconds before the caution - when another yellow flag came out.

Logano flew off-line on the restart as Harvick got a stellar jump to beat Blaney. Blaney was the only challenger he really had, and that only came on restarts. The last one, he took the top, like I knew he was going to go. "He motored around me".

By this time, Martin Truex Jr. had moved into fifth after starting at the rear due to a pre-race engine change.

On Lap 97, Jimmie Johnson got loose and spun in Turn 3 as his teammate, William Byron, plowed into the back of him to bring out a caution.

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Of those only Logano was a factor as he led 54 laps. "All of that was on the line at that point and I think we both understand that there was so much on the line and that is what happens sometimes". "The only difference is there's one less spot available".

Logano's differing pit strategy kept his rivals guessing late into the race.

"He just continues to make things harder on himself". "The 22 (Logano) just went down in turn three and put it right on my door and about wrecked us both".

"If that's the way he wants to race me when he's already locked into to Homestead and we're out here fighting for our lives, that's fine", Almirola said.

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