Kevin Harvick in the Stewart-Haas Racing No.44 Ford roared to victory Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. With 10 laps remaining in the race he passed Martin Truex, Jr. in the No. 78 Toyota and never looked back with a 1.580 second margin for the win on the 1.5 mile Fort Worth track.
This win is Harvick’s 37th Monster Energy Series career victory for the 41 year old driver. He led five times for a total of 38 laps of the 334 in the AAA Texas 500 race. He now has clinched a berth in the Championship 4 field to be held at Homestead in Miami. Harvick won his first series championship in 2014 and looks forward to running on another 1.5 mile track in Homestead for this years championship.
Martin Truex Jr. who finished second clinched a berth in the final 4 based on points, joining both Harvick and Kyle Busch who secured his berth with last weekends win in Martinsville. So there is just one more spot to be filled before the November 19th showdown in Miami.
Truex led a race-high 107 laps on Sunday with his second place finish, Denny Hamlin finished third, Matt Kenseth fourth and Brad Keselowski managed a top five finish in fifth. The remaining top finishers include Ryan Blaney sixth, Joey Logano seventh, Chase Elliott eighth, Kurt Busch ninth and Erik Jones rounding off the top ten.
Meanwhile, some of the eight remaining playoff drivers faced some challenges. Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski made contact on the initial lap, forcing unscheduled pit stops setting them back. However, both talented drivers bounced back to return to the lead lap with Keselowski getting the better result with his fifth place finish. Busch was not as fortunate as he had to enter pit road again on Lap 275 with a flat tire and he finished 19th.
Jimmie Johnson sustained a major setback with his 27th place finish, three laps off the winners pace. He is now last among the eight playoff eligible drivers heading into next week’s Round of 8 finale.
Next Sunday the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series Playoff race moves to Phoenix Raceway, where the final spot in the title field will be determined.