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NASCAR Cup: Kevin Harvick wins at Texas

Kevin Harvick celebrates his win of the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Nov. 5, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

Kevin Harvick celebrates his win of the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Nov. 5, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

By AMANDA VINCENT

Kevin Harvick confirmed his reservation for the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Championship Four with his win Sunday in the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway near Fort Worth.

“This feels so good,” Harvick said. “We have been qualifying well here and racing well ever since I have been at Stewart-Haas Racing and just never got it to work out to go to victory lane. Today we had to earn it. To be able to pass the 78 car [Truex] for the win is something that is huge for our confidence and team, knowing we need to go to another 1.5 mile at Homestead to race for the championship. I am really proud of everyone on our Mobil 1 Ford. This thing was a hot rod today.”

Harvick took the lead with a pass on Martin Truex Jr. with nine laps remaining. Truex finished second and, like Harvick and Kyle Busch the week before with a win at Kansas Speedway, clinched his position in the Championship Four, based on his points tally. Truex didn’t win a stage Sunday, but he collected points in each of the stages to add to his points from his runner-up finish.

“It’s unbelievable,” Truex said of his clinch. “Awesome season and can’t thank everybody enough – Bass Pro Shops, Toyota, TRD, Furniture Row, Denver Mattress. It was hot out there today. Just everybody and all our partners. Everybody that helps us, we couldn’t do it without them. It’s been an amazing season and I love this team. We’re excited for Homestead; we had a great test down there and looking forward to going down there and getting another win.”

Truex also was credited with most laps led, running up front for nearly a third of the race — 107 laps.

Denny Hamlin finished third, and Matt Kenseth was fourth. Brad Keselowski rounded out the top-five with a late pass on Team Peanke teammate Joey Logano.

Keselowski was a lap down throughout the first stage of the race as the result of an incident with Kyle Busch on the first lap that necessitated in trips to the pits for both drivers. As a result, both drivers fell off the lead lap.

Both drivers eventually got back on the lead lap and got into the top-10. Keselowski was able to get inside the top-five and run there consistently throughout the remainder of the race. Busch, though, continued to struggle and wound up 19th at the finish.

“We had a pretty good car,” Keselowski said. ”Something happened on lap one and, basically, we started the race last and a lap-and-a-half down. That cost us a bunch of stage points, but we rallied with a solid effort to get back to fifth. I’m happy for that.”

Aside from Busch, Jimmie Johnson was the only other playoff driver to finish the race outside the top-10. Johnson was three laps down in 27th at the checkered flag after and unscheduled pit stop for a vibration before lap 70.

“We’ve got to figure something out,” Johnson said. “Kansas was a lot like this. It was just extremely difficult to drive the car and carry entry speed. And then, we had a loose wheel and then contact on a restart. We started off in a hole and just kept digging a deeper one as we went. I’m definitely disappointed, and I honestly just feel bad for my team. These guys are working so hard. And to work this hard and not see any speed go back in the car and have bad results as the last three weeks have been is pretty disappointing.”

Harvick and Kyle Larson were stage winners, with Harvick winning the first 85-lap stage and Larson the second.

Hamlin took the lead at the start of the race and after he and Larson spent time up front, Harvick took the lead on lap 70.

Larson took the lead from Harvick on a restart following a lap-93 caution and led most of the second stage. Larson fell out of contention, though, when he made two pit stops during a caution with about 100 laps remaining, despite having just made a pit stop under green-flag conditions. The extra pit stop was necessitated by a missing wheel spacer. His trouble went from bad to worse when he made hard contact with the wall on lap 283. His wreck resulted in the eighth and final caution of the race and a red flag for track clean-up.

“Just can’t really execute,” Larson said. “Whether it’s bad pit stops or bad luck with whatever happened to our right-front, we had a loose wheel and then, had to pit a couple of times to fix it.  We just gave up track position. We took the best car and just whatever, I don’t know, it’s frustrating, because I know I had the best car and lose track position and that is what happens.  You try and move forward, and it’s so hard to pass here; you try and find some stuff and get in the wall.”

Truex was up front for the restart at the beginning of the third and final stage, courtesy of a two-tire pit stop. He and Kenseth traded the lead back-and-forth on restarts early in the final stage before Truex took over the position on a restart with just under 90 laps remaining.

Ryan Blaney also got by Logano late in the race to finish sixth, relegating Logano to a seventh-place finish. After starting 34th as the result of not getting on track during qualifying on Friday, Chase Elliott finished eighth. Pole sitter Kurt Busch finished ninth, and Erik Jones was 10th.

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Posted by on November 6, 2017. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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