Harvick makes final four with third straight Texas playoff win

Kevin Harvick can thank Texas Motor Speedway again for his fifth appearance in the NASCAR Cup Series title race in the last six seasons.

Harvick makes final four with third straight Texas playoff win
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Harvick overcame a pit road penalty and a bad restart to come from behind in the final stage and hold off a pair of his Stewart-Haas Racing teammates for the victory in Sunday’s AAA 500.

On Lap 254 of 334, Harvick passed Almirola to take the lead for the first time in the final stage and remained out front through a round of green-flag pit stops. He held off Almirola off by 1.594 seconds at the finish.

The win is the fourth of the season for Harvick and 49th of his career. It’s also his third consecutive victory in the Texas playoff race.

“I just want to thank all these fans. Texas has always been so great to us, and what a race track the last few years,” Harvick said. “We brought a great (car) to the race track this weekend, but I've got to thank everybody who helps put this car on the race track week-in and week-out, and all those guys in the race shop, Roush Yates Engines for putting this engine in this last week.

“It’s just been a lot of work put into this race. We knew this was a good race track for us. Felt like it fit the styles of our cars, and man, did it.”

Asked if he had the confidence he could win throughout the race, Harvick said: “Well, we got put back in the back there for the pit road violation, and I didn’t really know what was going to happen.  

“We had a bad restart after that, and then all of a sudden we got on a different set of tires and got on a different cycle, and wound up making our way back to the front.  It was a fast car.”

With one race left to qualify, Martin Truex Jr. and Harvick are already locked in the Championship 4. 

The remaining drivers attempting to fill the final two positions (in order of points) are Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott.

Daniel Suarez finished third in Sunday’s race, Logano was fourth and Alex Bowman completed the top-five.

Rounding out the top-10 finishers were Truex, Kyle Busch, Blaney, Kurt Busch and Erik Jones.

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Stage 3

Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, most everyone pit but William Byron remained on the track and inherited the lead.

On the restart on Lap 178, Byron was followed by Suarez, Jones, Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer.

Coming off Turn 4 on Lap 179, Suarez got around Byron to take the lead for the first time in the race.

Johnson spun and hit the Turn 2 wall on Lap 186 to bring out a caution. His No. 48 Chevrolet suffered serious damage in the incident.

 

Just a handful of drivers elected to pit, including Harvick, Blaney and Truex. The race returned to green on Lap 191 with Suarez still out front. Harvick had to restart from the rear of the field for his team having equipment over the wall too soon.

Garrett Smithley wrecked in Turn 2 on the restart and collected David Ragan to once again put the race under caution. 

The race returned to green on Lap 196 with Suarez out front followed by Byron, Kurt Busch and Almirola.

Almirola went to the inside of Suarez entering Turn 1 on Lap 202 to reclaim the lead as Suarez dropped to second and Kurt Busch ran third.

With 125 laps remaining, Almirola held a small lead over Suarez with Kurt Busch close behind. Byron ran fourth and Jones fifth.

On Lap 231, Kurt Busch got around Suarez to take the second spot. Harvick had recovered from his penalty to run eighth.

With 100 laps remaining, Almirola maintained a 2.5-second lead over Kurt Busch as Suarez ran third, 3.7 seconds behind.

Bubba Wallace spun off Turn 2 with a tire going down on Lap 242 to bring out a caution just as several drivers were beginning a round of green-flag pit stops.

 

Most everyone pit but Almirola – who had already completed his stop – moved back into the lead on the restart on Lap 249. He was followed by Suarez, Ryan Newman (who was first off pit road) and Kyle Busch.

On Lap 254, Harvick came off Turn 4 and went to the inside of Almirola to take the lead for the first time in the final stage.

With 60 laps remaining in the race, Harvick had expanded his lead to 1.5 seconds over Almirola as Kyle Busch had moved up to third, more than 6 seconds behind the leader.

Harvick’s lead over Almirola grew to 3.7 seconds with 40 laps to go. Kyle Busch was third, Logano fourth and Suarez ran fifth.

With 30 laps remaining, many drivers began making their final green-flag pit stop to pick up enough fuel to make it to the finish of the race.

Harvick made his stop on Lap 308, along with several others. When the cycle of stops had completed on Lap 313, Harvick returned to the lead and with a more than 2-second advantage over Almirola.

Kyle Busch, the last of the lead-lap cars to pit, stalled on the exit to his pit stall. He dropped to seventh when he returned to the track.

With five laps remaining, Harvick still managed a more than 2-second lead over Almirola with Suarez in third.

Cla # Driver Manufacturer Laps Time Laps Led
1 4 United States Kevin Harvick  Ford 334   119
2 10 United States Aric Almirola  Ford 334 01.594 62
3 41 Mexico Daniel Suarez  Ford 334 04.584 25
4 22 United States Joey Logano  Ford 334 08.305 5
5 88 United States Alex Bowman  Chevrolet 334 08.537 11
6 19 United States Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 334 12.315  
7 18 United States Kyle Busch  Toyota 334 12.480 18
8 12 United States Ryan Blaney  Ford 334 15.150  
9 1 United States Kurt Busch  Chevrolet 334 15.472 1
10 20 United States Erik Jones  Toyota 334 17.414 9
11 14 United States Clint Bowyer  Ford 334 18.357 36
12 42 United States Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 334 25.297  
13 3 United States Austin Dillon  Chevrolet 334 25.356  
14 95 United States Matt DiBenedetto  Toyota 334 25.820  
15 6 United States Ryan Newman  Ford 333 1 lap  
16 8 United States Daniel Hemric  Chevrolet 333 1 lap  
17 24 United States William Byron  Chevrolet 333 1 lap 8
18 13 United States Ty Dillon  Chevrolet 333 1 lap  
19 37 United States Chris Buescher  Chevrolet 333 1 lap  
20 21 United States Paul Menard  Ford 333 1 lap  
21 36 United States John Hunter Nemechek  Ford 333 1 lap  
22 96 United States Parker Kligerman  Toyota 332 2 laps  
23 47 United States Ryan Preece  Chevrolet 331 3 laps  
24 43 United States Darrell Wallace Jr.  Chevrolet 331 3 laps  
25 34 United States Michael McDowell  Ford 329 5 laps  
26 53 United States J.J. Yeley  Ford 329 5 laps  
27 00 United States Landon Cassill  Chevrolet 328 6 laps  
28 11 United States Denny Hamlin  Toyota 328 6 laps  
29 15 United States Joe Nemechek  Chevrolet 327 7 laps  
30 51 United States Josh Bilicki  Chevrolet 323 11 laps  
31 27 United States Ross Chastain  Chevrolet 319 15 laps  
32 9 United States Chase Elliott  Chevrolet 312 22 laps  
33 77 United States Quin Houff  Chevrolet 202 132 laps  
34 48 United States Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 199 135 laps 40
35 38 United States David Ragan  Ford 189 145 laps  
36 52 United States Garrett Smithley  Ford 188 146 laps  
37 66 United States Timmy Hill  Toyota 156 178 laps  
38 32 United States Corey Lajoie  Ford 67 267 laps  
39 2 United States Brad Keselowski  Ford 52 282 laps  
40 17 United States Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Ford 52 282 laps  

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