Kevin Harvick holds off Truex for Stage 1 win at Texas

Kevin Harvick collected his sixth stage win of 2017 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday.

Kevin Harvick holds off Truex for Stage 1 win at Texas
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing Rodney, Mobil 1 Ford Fusion
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing Rodney, Mobil 1 Ford Fusion
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing Rodney, Mobil 1 Ford Fusion
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford

Harvick beat Martin Truex Jr. to the line by .347-seconds. Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Kurt Busch, Erik Jones, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Blaney, Austin Dillon and Daniel Suarez rounded out the top 10 after the first 85 laps in the AAA Texas 500. 

Hamlin’s 46 laps led were the most in the stage.

Chase Elliott, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Trevor Bayne, Reed Sorenson, Corey LaJoie and Gray Gaulding started from the rear after failing pre-qualifying inspection. Paul Menard started rear for a driver change. 

Before the field entered Turn 2, Kyle Busch slid up into the No. 2 Ford and damaged Keselowski’s fender resulting in a flat left rear. The contact, in turn, cut the right rear on the No. 18 Toyota. Both drivers dropped the back of the field. Keselowski ran 39th, one lap down. Busch fell to 40th. 

Hamlin took the lead on the first lap followed by Jones, Busch, Harvick and Blaney. After the first five laps, Elliott moved into the top 25. 

Hamlin held a half-second lead over Jones after the first 10 laps. Busch remained third followed by Harvick, Blaney, Suarez, Truex, Larson McMurray and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Although Jimmie Johnson started ninth, he dropped to 14th. Elliott moved up to 19th and was gaining on the leaders. 

Jones cut Hamlin’s lead to .340-seconds after the first 20 laps. Busch, Harvick, Blaney, Larson, Truex, Suarez, McMurray and Stenhouse completed the top 10. Johnson ran 15th followed by Elliott. Keselowski remained mired in 39th. Larson passed Blaney for fifth and Elliott passed Johnson for 15th on Lap 24.  After the first 25 laps, 30 cars were on the lead lap. 

Kenseth broke into the top 10 after 30 laps. Austin Dillon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Stenhouse, Kasey Kahne, Elliott, Johnson, Danica Patrick, Clint Bowyer, Logano, and AJ Allmendinger rounded the top 20. Kurt Busch passed Erik for second on Lap 34 but then dropped to fifth over the next three laps when he hit traffic. Larson moved up to second followed by Harvick and Jones. On Lap 39, Busch moved back to fourth. 

Forty laps in, Hamlin held a half-second lead over Larson. Harvick, Kurt Busch, Jones, Truex, Blaney Kenseth, Suarez, McMurray, Earnhardt, Austin Dillon, Kahne, Elliott and Johnson completed the top 15. Keselowski climbed to 32, one lap down. 

The first lead changed occurred on Lap 47 when Larson blew by Hamlin in Turn 3. Harvick followed for second. Hamlin dropped to third followed by Kurt Busch, Jones, Truex, Blaney, Kenseth, Suarez, McMurray, Earnhartd, A. Dillon, Kahne, Elliott and Johnson. 

Larson extended his lead to one-second over Harvick by Lap 50. Truex pitted on Lap 51 as green-flag stops began. Larson led seven laps before pitting and giving up the lead to Austin Dillon on Lap 54. Dillon led a lap, then pitted. Elliott took the lead on Lap 55 before pitting on the next lap. Ryan Newman led Lap 60, then pitted and Larson cycled out to the front.

Johnson was forced to pit with a vibration and tire rub on Lap 67. He dropped to 30th, the first car two laps down. 

Harvick passed Larson for the lead on Lap 70 with 15 laps remaining in the stage. Truex ran third followed by Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Jones, Kenseth, Blaney, A. Dillon and Suarez. Truex passed Larson on Lap 73. Hamlin followed on the next circuit. 

Truex cut Harvick’s advantage to .628-seconds with five lefts remaining in the stage. Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Larson, Jones, Kenseth, Blaney, A. Dillon, Suarez, Kahne, Elliott, McMurray, Earnhardt and Logano rounded out the top 15. 

Elliott finished 11th. Keselowski ran 26th, one lap down following an incident with Kyle Busch (30th). Johnson dropped to 28th, two laps down after he was forced to pit with a vibration and cut tire. Seventeen cars remained on the lead lap.

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