Harvick passes Truex for win in Texas
Both clinch berths for championship
FORT WORTH, TEXAS
The timing was perfect for Kevin Harvick’s first NASCAR Cup Series victory at Texas. So was his winning pass.
Harvick went around the outside of Martin Truex Jr. for the lead on the 324th of 334 laps, then stayed in front the rest of the way Sunday to earn his championship shot in NASCAR’s finale.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Harvick, who had won five Xfinity races and a NASCAR Truck race there in the past. “Great to check that one off.”
Truex had led 107 laps and was still up front until his bobble on the backstretch that allowed Harvick to take the lead.
But Truex, with a significant points lead and wins in three of the eight playoff races, also locked into one of the four spots to race for the championship at Homestead in two weeks.
“A little disappointed to come up short, but to clinch a spot in Miami is unbelievable,” Truex said. “Definitely got the job done today, and came here and did what we needed to.”
Harvick and Kyle Busch clinched championship shots by winning during the third round of the playoffs. That leaves only one spot up for grabs among the five remaining playoff contenders next week at Phoenix.
After doing a long burnout along the frontstretch in the No. 4 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing, Harvick went to Victory Lane, where the Texas celebration was missing the traditional firing of six-shooters by the winner.
TMS officials bypassed the use of the pistols after a man opened fire inside a church in a small community about 300 miles south of the track near San Antonio earlier Sunday. Authorities in South Texas said the shooter killed 26 people and wounded at least 20 others before being killed.
Denny Hamlin, another of the playoff contenders, finished third, while Brad Keselowski was fifth and Ryan Blaney sixth. Chase Elliott finished eighth, and his teammate Jimmie Johnson dealt with a loose car all day and finished 27th.
Keselowski dropped from third to fourth in points, 57 behind Truex. Hamlin is fifth in the standings, followed by Ryan Blaney, Elliott and seventh-time Cup champion Johnson.
“I’d feel confident if we were locked in. These races you don’t know what’s gonna happen,” Keselowski said.
Elliott knows that feeling, having been in the lead and two laps shy of the checkered flag a week earlier at Martinsville before getting wrecked by Hamlin. Instead of the possible win then that would have clinched a championship spot, he now likely has to win at Phoenix to advance.