Harvick earns shot at NASCAR Cup title with Texas win

Harvick earns shot at NASCAR Cup title with Texas win

Harvick, who led 177 of 337 laps, said that he doesn't come here to count fingers and toes to attempt to deduce how he is going to make it, he wants to earn it. As such, Stewart will not bemoan his organization's fate after the upcoming elimination race at Phoenix's ISM Raceway if only one of his drivers has a shot at the championship.

"It makes us proud to see a company like Vankor that makes its inaugural entry into motorsports and immediately sees the value and identifies other avenues to expand their branding opportunities", Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage said. Chase Elliott (sixth), Kurt Busch (seventh), Aric Almirola (eighth) and Truex also finished in the top 10.

Johnson, who had qualified 23rd, was put at the back of the field after twice failing prerace inspection.

Once the cycle of stops was completed on Lap 294, Harvick emerged with a more than 4-second lead over Blaney, followed by Almirola, Logano and Jones. 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.

Another late caution led to a third restart in the final 35 laps, each time with Harvick leading.

But the gritty Truex eventually got one lap back and when a caution came out on Lap 296 he was back on the lead lap as the Free Pass recipient.

The win earns Harvick an automatic spot in the Championship 4 playoff finale at Homestead.

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NASCAR says it erred in sending Jimmie Johnson's No. 48 vehicle to back of the field for the start of the race in Texas. He was able to pull away from Logano and Harvick on the final stage restart, soon being accompanied by Ryan Blaney as Penske drivers ran 1-2-3 on Lap 181. They are comfortably above the cut line for points, but Chase Elliott or any of Harvick's three SHR teammates - Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola and Kurt Busch - could advance with a win in Phoenix. After starting at the rear in last week's race at Martinsville Speedway, Martin Truex Jr. found himself in the same predicament at Texas following an engine change.

Logano's differing pit strategy kept his rivals guessing late into the race.

On Lap 254, Harvick made his way around Logano and back into the lead. "That was really the only shot we had to beat him, to be honest with you". He had qualified 23rd for his 600th start with Chad Knaus as his crew chief.

"There is no format for the teams to communicate to the tower. I don't know how they do it".

Stage #2 began on lap 92, lasting just five laps before Johnson and Byron tangled in turn three, the latter hitting the former's rear bumper and spinning.

Truex had qualified 13th but moved to the back of the field for the start of Sunday's race. But considering the emotional roller coaster that Truex and the Furniture Row Racing team went through the ninth-place place overtime finish looked pretty, pretty good. The win marked his 45th career victory in the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series.

"Just the fact that we were able to get all four of them this far is an accomplishment, a huge year for our company", Stewart said Sunday night after Kevin Harvick's victory in Texas.

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