NASCAR Texas: Harvick secures title decider place with Texas win

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick secured his place in the NASCAR Cup title decider, prevailing in a late race duel with Ryan Blaney at Texas.

After having swept the first two stages, Harvick had built a comfortable four-second lead over Blaney entering the final 40 laps of the 334-lap race.

However, three late-race spin-induced cautions eradicated Harvick’s advantage.

On the second of the restarts, Blaney was able to pass the SHR driver around the outside of Turns 1 and 2 to claim the race lead.

The #12 Penske held the lead for several laps before Harvick worked his way back into the lead of the race.

With two laps remaining at the final restart, Harvick opted for the now seemingly faster outside lane and cleared Blaney with ease to seize the win.

Harvick joins Martinsville race winner Joey Logano in being confirmed as one of the final four playoff contenders who will contest for championship honours in the season finale at Homestead.

Blaney, who was eliminated for playoff contention at the previous ’round of 12′ stage, finished second ahead of team-mate Logano.

Penske Fords had locked out the top three positions at the start of the third and final stage, with Brad Keselowski leading 50 laps and Harvick working his way back to the front from fifth place.

But Keselowski ultimately dropped out of contention with a loose wheel after his penultimate pitstop and ended up in 12th.

Both Logano in third and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Erik Jones in fourth managed to pass Kyle Larson at the final restart after the #42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet hit the back of Blaney at the green flag and lost momentum.

Larson ended up finishing in fifth place, narrowly holding off playoff contender Chase Elliott. Both drivers had been on the periphery of the top 10 until the final stage.

Harvick’s SHR team-mate Kurt Busch finished seventh, ahead of Aric Almirola in eighth. Almirola, who started the race from the back after stewards spotted unapproved bodywork changes, had been third before tangling with Logano late on and losing ground.

Elliott, Busch and Almirola all enter the final race of the ’round of 8′ at Phoenix outside the cutoff, along with Clint Bowyer who ended up several laps down after his race was heavily compromised by lap one contact with Denny Hamlin.

Having also started from the back after a post-qualifying engine change, Martin Truex Jr finished in ninth place. An unscheduled pitstop for a tyre vibration had left him two laps down during the final stage.

Kyle Busch’s day was mired by a similar tyre vibration in the second stage, after having consistently run in the top 10. He could only recover to 15th place.

Results – 337 laps

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 3h21m27.s
2 Ryan Blaney Team Penske Ford 0.447s
3 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 21h38m33.s
4 Erik Jones Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 21h38m33.s
5 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 21h38m33.s
6 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 21h38m33.s
7 Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 21h38m33.s
8 Aric Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 21h38m33.s
9 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Racing Toyota 21h38m33.s
10 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 21h38m33.s
11 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford 21h38m33.s
12 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford 21h38m33.s
13 Paul Menard Wood Brothers Racing Ford 21h38m33.s
14 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 21h38m33.s
15 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 21h38m33.s
16 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 21h38m33.s
17 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 21h38m33.s
18 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 2 Laps
19 Jamie McMurray Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 2 Laps
20 A.J. Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 2 Laps
21 Trevor Bayne Roush Fenway Racing Ford 2 Laps
22 Ty Dillon Germain Racing Chevrolet 2 Laps
23 Chris Buescher JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 2 Laps
24 David Ragan Front Row Motorsports Ford 2 Laps
25 Darrell Wallace Jr. Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet 2 Laps
26 Clint Bowyer Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 3 Laps
27 Regan Smith Leavine Family Racing Chevrolet 5 Laps
28 Daniel Suarez Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 5 Laps
29 Michael McDowell Front Row Motorsports Ford 6 Laps
30 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 6 Laps
31 Parker Kligerman Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota 8 Laps
32 Ross Chastain Premium Motorsports Chevrolet 11 Laps
33 Reed Sorenson Premium Motorsports Chevrolet 11 Laps
34 Kyle Weatherman StarCom Racing Chevrolet 14 Laps
35 Landon Cassill StarCom Racing Chevrolet 16 Laps
36 J.J. Yeley BK Racing Toyota 16 Laps
37 Joey Gase Rick Ware Racing Ford 20 Laps
38 Matt DiBenedetto Go FAS Racing Ford Accident
39 David Starr Obaika Racing Toyota 50 Laps
40 Corey LaJoie TriStar Motorsports Chevrolet 68 Laps

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