Kevin Harvick advances to Playoff finale with authoritative win at Texas Featured

Grant SmithNov 07, 2018

Harvick also won both stages at the 1 1/2-mile Texas track, the fourth time this season he did that and went on to win the race.

When the race was over, Truex still remained in a good position points-wise to advance to the Championship 4 at Homestead in two weeks and compete again for the series championship. Rounding out the top 10 were Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Erik Jones, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch, Aric Almirola, Truex, and Austin Dillon.

The race victor and second driver to automatically advance to Homestead was Kevin Harvick.

In a race that produced a last-lap pass for the win, a record 13 cautions and an unmitigated disaster for favorite son Christopher Bell, Cole Custer moved past Tyler Reddick on the backstretch to win.

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.

While trying to get one of those spots, Truex is going into the final three races with the Furniture Row team since the primary sponsor is leaving the one-car operation based in suburban Denver.

Defending Cup champion Martin Truex Jr., who had to start at the back of the field after an engine change, was fifth in the first stage, just ahead of Logano and Kyle Busch.

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.

The success is even more impressive when you consider the changes that have taken place at SHR during his tenure, including different teammates and the organization's move from the Chevrolet to Ford camp last season. "Today we earned our way in, and we're going to race again next week (at Phoenix) and try to win another race and then see what we can do at Homestead".

Harvick was on the inside again for the next restart, before Blaney was able to get by him on the outside and into the lead.

Of those only Logano was a factor as he led 54 laps.

Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage also said the repaved Texas asphalt needs more weathering to improve the racing, which had only one real nugget of interest on the track all day: Aric Almirola took exception to Joey Logano racing him hard in the final stage. "If we don't make that call, I think (media) would be asking why we didn't".

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

"He just continues to make things harder on himself".

"We were a third place auto and that restart there where we finally were in position we fought all day from the back and started at the tail and worked diligently all day to get up to the front and finally got ourselves in position to at least have a shot and race with those guys", Almirola said of the final restart of the day. "When Homestead comes around if I am not in, he will know it".

Jimmie Johnson was sent to the rear of the field after the No. 48 Chevrolet twice failed prerace inspection.

"That's the plan anyways", Truex said. He had qualified 23rd for his 600th start with Chad Knaus as his crew chief. It gets you loose and it's a handful. This became the decider of the playoff Round of 8 race. Harvick won there for the ninth time earlier this season.

Kevin Harvick celebrates after winning the AAA Texas 500 and clinching a position in the NASCAR Championship 4.

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