Harvick takes Texas to clinch championship spot

Martin Truex Jr

Martin Truex Jr

Kevin Harvick had the fastest vehicle all afternoon but had to sweat out overtime to earn the victory at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday. As the leader, Harvick took the outside line for the third restart in the last 35 laps.

"We've been working day after day to make speed", said Harvick, who won for the second time at Texas and the 45 time in his career, 17 most all-time.

"I don't know what genius made a decision to pave this place or take the banking out of [Turns] 1 and 2", Chase Elliot told reporters.

UP NEXT: The last race in the third round of the playoffs, Sunday at Phoenix.

"The expectations are to win". "That was really the only shot we had to beat him, to be honest with you". We finally knocked that barrier (win) down (last fall) and win in front of all these fans at Texas. Of his 32 starts in the Lone Star State, his only two wins are the last two fall races, but those are among his 20 top-10 finishes there. "Today we earned our way in and we're going to go and race again next week and try to win another race and see what we can do at Homestead".

With Joey Logano and Harvick locked in after winning the past two races, the series goes to Phoenix next week with only two spots up for grabs for the championship run at Homestead in two weeks.

Harvick dueled Ryan Blaney late in the race, with Blaney taking the lead for about seven laps after a restart on Lap 311.

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

"I will just make it really hard on him", he said.

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It took Harvick seven laps of chasing to regain the lead, but in the two-lap overtime, he didn't have the luxury of time to mount a pursuit.

Then Harvick was off into the Texas sunset. I kind of figured he'd take the top. "It all worked out".

Logano said they were still racing at the end in a tight turn. "We went in side-by-side".

Harvick was the only one of so-called Big Three to avoid trouble on Sunday.

On Lap 143, Kyle Busch was forced to pit a second time under green because he thought he had a loose wheel.

Of those only Logano was a factor as he led 54 laps. He also dealt with a loose tire and had a pass-through penalty during the race for driving through too many pit boxes, and was a lap down before getting that back one the first of the late cautions. Kurt Busch and Erik Jones round out the top 3. Truex Jr.is the driver who is now on the bubble right above the Championship 4 cut line, as he trails Busch by three points.

However, Almirola now trails the Championship 4 cut line by 57 points, meaning that he must win the final race of the round of 8, the Can-Am 500, at ISM Raceway in order to advance to the Championship 4.

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

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