Kevin Harvick dominates Stage 2 at Texas

Martin Truex Jr

Martin Truex Jr

Streaking away from pole victor Ryan Blaney during an overtime restart on Lap 336, Harvick won Sunday's AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway with the utmost of authority, sweeping the stages and leading a race-high 177 laps on the way to his series-best eighth victory of the season and a guaranteed spot in the November 18 Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Harvick, who started third, won the first stage and then followed it up with a win in the second stage.

"I don't know what genius chose to pave this place or take the banking out of [Turns] 1 and 2", Chase Elliot told reporters. We finally knocked that barrier down (with a win in last year's Playoff race at TMS).

"The expectations are to win". "That was really the only shot we had to beat him, to be honest with you". We race for wins. Today he has earned his way in and he is going to attempt to be triumphant in another race and see what can be done on the home ground.

With the win, Harvick joined Joey Logano in having clinched spots into the Championship 4. Logano ran third at Texas after leading 54 laps, second only to Harvick.

The only stress for Harvick was lane choice for the overtime.

After the first of the late restarts, Harvick was on the inside and was able to keep Blaney from clearing him on the backstretch.

Harvick leads the field as dusk falls on Texas Motor Speedway. Blaney was the only challenger he really had, and that only came on restarts. I kind of figured he'd take the top. Harvick said that he thought if he could prevent him from concluding the corner, he could drive back by him. "It all worked out".

Blaney held on to finish second.

"I will just make it really hard on him", he said. "We went in side-by-side. I'm glad we got the win again here", he said.

Harvick left no doubt he was the auto to beat Sunday. Martin Truex Jr. almost pulled of the come-from-behind win but was nudged and passed by Logano in the final turn. Two laps down after a pass-through penalty, Truex rallied to finish ninth.

Kyle Busch ran into similar difficulties, dealing with a speeding penalty early in the race, following with an unscheduled pit stop due to a loose wheel later on. Truex is 25 points ahead of Kurt Busch, who likely will need a victory at Phoenix to advance to the Championship 4.

Almirola finished the AAA Texas 500 in eighth place, and he moved up to seventh in the playoff picture, as he passed teammate Clint Bowyer, who finished the race in 26th in his #14 Ford.

Martin Truex Jr. finished third, Brad Keselowski was fourth and Joey Logano completed the top-five.

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