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

Tanya Simon
November 8, 2018

Harvick shot past polesitter Ryan Blaney on the final restart in overtime Sunday.

The victory was Harvick's first since MI in August, and it broke a streak of bad luck during which the driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford led laps but failed to find Victory Lane, thanks to mechanical issues or pit road mistakes.

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.

Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kevin Harvick becomes the second driver to lock in for the Championship 4 at Homestead, joining Joey Logano. The 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion showed his motivation that was sparked by last week's playoff finish where he and Logano clashed, forcing him to relinquish the lead and end up in third.

Harvick left no doubt he was the auto to beat Sunday.

"That last restart I knew I needed to pick the top", Harvick said. 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.

Harvick was the only one of so-called Big Three to avoid trouble on Sunday. "Obviously Blaney had a good restart and we're not taking the bottom anymore". "I am not going to let what happened last week take my focus off of that". Since they repaved the place it's been lights out. We finally knocked that barrier (win) down (last fall) and win in front of all these fans at Texas.

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"We don't come here to count our fingers and toes to try to figure out how we're going to make it". Harvick elected to bring his No. 4 Ford down pit road on Lap 133. By time they got to the backstretch to start a green-white-checkered finish, Harvick had already cleared the field.

When the green-flag cycle of stops had completed on Lap 160, Harvick returned to the lead, followed by Jimmie Johnson, Blaney, Truex and Keselowski.

"We got by him on one restart (with 33 laps to go), but I just couldn't hold him off", Blaney said. "I wanted to be on the bottom to be safe, because the top got such a good side-draft getting into Turn 1 and the outside groove got rubbered up". The first 85-lap stage earlier this year ended under caution after a front right tire blew on Truex's No. 78 Toyota, which shot up the track and slammed hard into the outer wall.

Logano is the only driver locked into the final four spots, clinching that after his bump-and-run on the final lap to beat Truex last week at Martinsville.

"That's how you control your destiny the most is to get in Victory Lane", Harvick said. He was ahead of Kurt Busch, who is also still alive in the playoff.

With less than 60 laps remaining in the second stage, Harvick maintained a small lead over Logano with Kurt Busch running in third. Chase Elliott and Aric Almirola, who had gone to the back of the field for the start because of unapproved body modifications, rounded out the top 10.

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