Kevin Harvick does it again, winning third straight Texas Playoff race

FORT WORTH, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 03: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Busch Beer/Ducks Unlimited Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 03, 2019 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

He did it again.  For the third consecutive season, Kevin Harvick has punched his ticket to the Championship 4 at Homestead with a win in Texas Sunday.

Harvick led from the pole and won Stage 1 and seemed well on the way to domination but a penalty during a pit stop but him at the back of the field on lap 190.  Harvick rallied forward from 22nd taking the lead for the final time on lap 256 after a final round of green flag stops and never looked back beating his Stewart Haas Racing teammate Aric Almirola to the line by 1.594 seconds after leading a race high 119 of 334 laps.

“We got put back in the back there for the pit road violation, and I didn’t really know what was going to happen,” Harvick said.  “We had a bad restart after that, and then all of a sudden we got on a different set of tires and got on a different cycle and wound up making our way back to the front.  It was a fast car.”

After leading 62 laps of his own and winning Stage 2, Almirola had to settle for second, while the third SHR car wheeled by Daniel Suarez finished third after leading 25 laps.  Joey Logano and Alex Bowman rounded out the top five.

“For a little while I thought we had a car capable of winning,” Almirola said. “When Harvick got a good restart there and was able to keep pace with us I knew I was in trouble. His car was a good bit faster than ours in clean air.”

Now, for the fifth time in the last six years of the current Playoff format Harvick will be racing for this year’s Cup title at Homestead joining Martin Truex Jr., who won last week at Martinsville and finished sixth Sunday.

“They’ve already built the car, picked a direction,” Harvick said.  “We’ve got so many things that ‑‑ so many things that you had to choose from an aero standpoint, and Homestead is such a unique racetrack.  We’ve already been to the simulator, we’ve already built the car, and now we’ve just got to make sure that we do what we think is right and go with our gut and see what happens.”

For a couple of Playoff drivers Sunday was an utter disaster.  Needing a near miracle, Chase Elliott smacked the wall on lap 9 and ended the day in 32nd, 22 laps down. The finish comes a week after a broken axle at Martinsville left him with a 36th place finish 55 laps down.

Denny Hamlin had his own issues Sunday. After winning at Kansas and finishing third at Martinsville, Hamlin was running inside the top five when on lap 81 he spun coming out of turn 4 and slid across the frontstretch causing heavy damage to his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. He was able to finish but was 28th six laps down.

Neither driver scored any Stage points and Elliott leaves Texas eighth in the standings 78 points below the cutoff, Hamlin is fifth minus 20.

Kyle Busch finished seventh and is 28 points above the cutline, Ryan Blaney came home eighth and leaves sixth in the standings 23 below the cutoff. Kurt Busch was ninth, Erik Jones 10th.

The final Playoff driver, Kyle Larson had a vibration in his Chevy late in the going and fell outside the top 10 holding on to finish 12th. He’s seventh in the Playoff standings 23 below the cutoff.

The win is the fourth of the season for Harvick and the 49th of his career tying his boss Tony Stewart on the all-time win list.

The final race in the Round of 8 will be at Phoenix next Sunday.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race Results AAA Texas 500

Texas Motor Speedway

Fort Worth, Texas

Sunday, November 3, 2019

1. (1)  Kevin Harvick (P), Ford, 334.

2. (6)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 334.

3. (7)  Daniel Suarez, Ford, 334.

4. (11)  Joey Logano (P), Ford, 334.

5. (5)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 334.

6. (17)  Martin Truex Jr. (P), Toyota, 334.

7. (12)  Kyle Busch (P), Toyota, 334.

8. (15)  Ryan Blaney (P), Ford, 334.

9. (4)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 334.

10. (2)  Erik Jones, Toyota, 334.

11. (24)  Clint Bowyer, Ford, 334.

12. (13)  Kyle Larson (P), Chevrolet, 334.

13. (21)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 334.

14. (10)  Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 334.

15. (25)  Ryan Newman, Ford, 333.

16. (16)  Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, 333.

17. (18)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 333.

18. (19)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 333.

19. (20)  Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 333.

20. (31)  Paul Menard, Ford, 333.

21. (29)  John Hunter Nemechek(i), Ford, 333.

22. (30)  Parker Kligerman(i), Toyota, 332.

23. (28)  Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, 331.

24. (22)  Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 331.

25. (27)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 329.

26. (34)  JJ Yeley(i), Ford, 329.

27. (32)  Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 328.

28. (3)  Denny Hamlin (P), Toyota, 328.

29. (38)  Joe Nemechek(i), Chevrolet, 327.

30. (39)  Josh Bilicki(i), Chevrolet, 323.

31. (35)  Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 319.

32. (14)  Chase Elliott (P), Chevrolet, 312.

33. (37)  Quin Houff, Chevrolet, Hub, 202.

34. (23)  Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, DVP, 199.

35. (26)  David Ragan, Ford, Accident, 189.

36. (36)  Garrett Smithley(i), Ford, Accident, 188.

37. (40)  Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, Engine, 156.

38. (33)  Corey LaJoie, Ford, Accident, 67.

39. (8)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, Accident, 52.

40. (9)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, Accident, 52.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  133.759 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 44 Mins, 44 Secs. Margin of Victory:  1.594 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  11 for 56 laps.

Lead Changes:  26 among 11 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   K. Harvick (P) 0;E. Jones 1;K. Harvick (P) 2-12;E. Jones 13-14;K. Harvick (P) 15-45;E. Jones 46-48;C. Bowyer 49-84;K. Harvick (P) 85-87;A. Bowman 88-98;J. Johnson 99-138;A. Almirola 139-143;D. Suarez 144-145;E. Jones 146-147;W. Byron 148-151;K. Harvick (P) 152;K. Busch 153;K. Busch (P) 154-164;A. Almirola 165-173;E. Jones 174;W. Byron 175-178;D. Suarez 179-201;A. Almirola 202-240;J. Logano (P) 241-245;A. Almirola 246-254;K. Harvick (P) 255-306;K. Busch (P) 307-313;K. Harvick (P) 314-334.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Kevin Harvick (P) 6 times for 119 laps; Aric Almirola 4 times for 62 laps; Jimmie Johnson 1 time for 40 laps; Clint Bowyer 1 time for 36 laps; Daniel Suarez 2 times for 25 laps; Kyle Busch (P) 2 times for 18 laps; Alex Bowman 1 time for 11 laps; Erik Jones 5 times for 9 laps; William Byron 2 times for 8 laps; Joey Logano (P) 1 time for 5 laps; Kurt Busch 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage 1 Top Ten: 4,14,42,88,18,3,1,47,12,8

Stage 2 Top Ten: 10,20,48,42,22,4,88,41,18,24

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