Harvick Warrants His Shot At NASCAR Cup Title With Victory In Texas

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Kevin Harvick pulled away from the field during an overtime restart to win the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, earning his eighth victory of the year and a guaranteed spot in the Championship 4 final round of NASCAR's playoffs. Harvick led 177 of the 337 laps.

The 2014 champion joins Joey Logano of Team Penske - who won last weekend's Round of 8 race at Martinsville Speedway - in securing a berth in the season-ending, championship-deciding race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in two weeks. Ryan Blaney was the runner-up.

With Harvick and Martinsville victor Joey Logano in the No. 22 Ford of Team Penske locked in, the series goes to Phoenix next week with only two spots up for grabs for the championship run at Homestead. The race will determine the other two drivers in the championship four. He nearly won last week at Martinsville to ensure the chance for a championship repeat before Joey Logano's bump-and-run move on the last lap. Buescher's JTG-Daugherty organization is using a Hendrick Motorsports engine for the first time next season.

Bowyer was involved in first-lap rub with Denny Hamlin.

"They were hard. They were challenging", Blaney said about the restarts. Elliott was sixth, followed by Kurt Busch and Almirola, who had also gone to the rear at the start of the race for unapproved body modifications. Harvick continued to lead the way on the restart on Lap 101.

After the first of the late restarts, Harvick was on the inside and was able to keep Blaney from clearing him on the backstretch. We're going to take the top and see what happens and obviously it worked out a little bit. We got by him one restart and I just couldn't hold him off.

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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. "Obviously Blaney had a good restart and we're not taking the bottom anymore".

He passed inspection on the third try, and should have been able to start in his original qualifying spot. Now Almirola is upset with Logano after one of the late restarts in Texas. Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus are making their 600th start together.

Jimmie Johnson (48) leads Kyle Busch (18) into Turn 1 during a NASCAR Cup auto race at Texas Motor Speedway, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, in Fort Worth, Texas. "This is just one of a few calls that have been wrong due to that situation".

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.

Johnson, who had qualified 23rd, was put at the back of the field after twice failing prerace inspection. "He is still going to go to Homestead and race for a championship, it is just not smart".

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