Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

Aric Almirola must win at Phoenix to advance — NASCAR Cup Series

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Shannon Reynolds | 08 November, 2018, 08:14

We don't count our fingers and our toes trying to figure out how to make it in (to the Championship 4 race).

Harvick escalated past pole sitter Ryan Blaney in overtime Sunday succeeding the third resuming in the concluding 35 laps, to triumph the Texas fall race in a successive year in a row and haul one of the four championships professing spots for the season finale in two weeks.

Harvick joins Martinsville victor Joey Logano, last Sunday's Martinsville victor in the title race. "That was really the only shot we had to beat him, to be honest with you".

This time, there was no late-race glitch to interrupt Kevin Harvick's domination of a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.

After the first of the late restarts, Harvick was on the inside and was able to keep Blaney from clearing him on the backstretch. Choosing to take the higher lane, he pulled away from Blaney and was never seriously challenged for first place. Harvick said that he thought if he could prevent him from concluding the corner, he could drive back by him. "Today we earned our way in and we're going to race again next week and try to win another race and then see what we can do at Homestead", Harvick concluded. "I'm glad we got to win again here", he said.

Logano said they were still racing at the end in a tight turn. "Obviously Blaney had a good restart and we're not taking the bottom anymore". The last one, he took the top, like I knew he was going to go.

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Harvick left no doubt he was the vehicle to beat Sunday. 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.

Kyle Busch drew an early speeding penalty entering pit road and later had to make an unscheduled pit stop because of a loose wheel. Kurt Busch and Erik Jones round out the top 3.

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.

Martin Truex Jr. finished third, Brad Keselowski was fourth and Joey Logano completed the top-five.

It did happen for Harvick, who won't change plans for next weekend's race in Phoenix despite already being locked into the championship after his 45th career win. Aric Almirola (eighth Sunday) and Clint Bowyer (26, after contact with Denny Hamlin's Toyota on Lap 1) are both in must-win situations.

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