Harvick Punches Ticket With Texas Win

Kevin Harvick

Kevin Harvick won for the first time at Texas Motor Speedway in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in Sunday's AAA Texas 500, but more importantly he punched his ticket to the Championship 4. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Kevin Harvick won Sunday's AAA Texas 500 to punch his ticket to the Championship 4 and also crossed Texas Motor Speedway off the list of tracks he's yet to win at.
 
Harvick was able to make the winning pass around Martin Truex Jr. with just nine laps to go and went on to take the checkered flag.
 
"Damn, it’s good to be in Victory Lane here in Texas,” Harvick said. “I knew I had a really good car. I knew I had to do something different. I started driving a whole lot deeper in (Turn) 1—a whole lot deeper. I started doing that earlier in the race, but I was afraid I didn’t have the brakes to continue to do that all day. So I waited until the end and was able to get on the outside of Martin and got him loose and brushed across the back of him and was able to get by on the outside down there.
 
“Just really proud of everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing.”
 
It was the 37th career Cup win for Harvick. He led five times for 38 laps.
 
Truex Jr. was shooting for his eighth win of the year but had to settle for second. But because of his point total and advantage, Truex Jr. was able to secure a berth in the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. (Read More)
 
“Yeah, I mean, on the long runs I would get really lose getting into the corners,” Truex Jr. said.  “As the runs went, I would get looser and looser.  Wasn't much I could do about it.  I could hold my own in clean air.  As soon as I caught lap cars, I would get loose getting in the corner.  We ran up on the 6 and somebody else racing each other, took up the whole racetrack.  I went into one and started chattering rear tires, chasing it up the hill.  Harvick followed me and got loose with me.  Somehow got to my right rear corner, got outside me, just carrying that momentum.”
 
Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five.
 
Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch and Erik Jones completed the first 10 finishers.
 
Harvick, Truex Jr. and last week’s Martinsville winner Kyle Busch are locked into the Championship 4 with one spot remaining. Keselowski is 19 points ahead of Hamlin for the final spot.
 
It will be decided when the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Phoenix Raceway next Sunday.
 
How Harvick Won: He was able to get by Truex Jr. for the top spot with less than 10 laps to go when the Furniture Row Racing driver caught lapped traffic. When Truex Jr. got hung up behind Trevor Bayne, Harvick seized the opportunity and drove around the No. 78 car for the lead. He was able to hang on from there and go to Victory Lane, securing a spot in the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
 
Who Had a Good Day:
Keselowski made an incredible comeback after he and Kyle Busch made contact when the green flag flew to start the race. He came to pit road with a flat tire but after the crew repaired the damage and despite falling laps down to the field, Keselowski fought back for the top five finish and stayed alive in the playoff race (Read More)…Hamlin scored his first top five finish at Texas since his win in 2010 his fifth straight top 10 finish this season and 15th top-five finish of 2017 tied for his most in a year (Read More).
 
Who Had a Bad Day:
Kyle Larson suffered his third straight DNF the longest of his career when he cut a tire and hit the wall...Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s final Texas race ended in the garage with a broken hub…Clint Bowyer also suffered problems and finished 36th…Jimmie Johnson’s 27th-place finish found him at one point three laps down to the field (Read More).
 
What Else Happened:
The bulk of the race had drivers searching for opportunities to pass on the tight Texas surface, which was repaved earlier this year. Restarts were the best chance to do so until the end of the race when Harvick was able to set up what turned out to be the winning move to get around Truex Jr. and win the race.
 
Quotable: “It shouldn’t be this hard,” race director David Hoots to teams trying to get the correct line-up before a restart.
 
Notable: Harvick scored his 12th win in the playoffs, second most to Jimmie Johnson with 29…Kenseth registered his first top-five Texas finish since 2013…Harvick was the 19th different Texas Cup winner.

 

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