Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

Truex trying to keep focus on title shot after Logano bump

Kyle Busch and Erik Jones at in front of the crowd at Texas Motor Speedway Martin Truex Jr. will start Texas NASCAR playoff race at the rear after engine change
Shannon Reynolds | 07 November, 2018, 07:54

Ryan Blaney was the runner-up.

Kevin Harvick, one of seven title contenders still trying to lock in a championship shot, has won the first stage of the NASCAR Cup race in Texas.

Kevin Harvick was the dominant vehicle all day Sunday in the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. He swept both stages and led a race-high 177 laps.

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

After taking the inside on the first two restarts, and briefly losing the lead after the second one, Harvick opted to start from outside for the green-white-checkered finish.

Kevin Harvick takes a photo with a young fan after winning a NASCAR Cup auto race at Texas Motor Speedway, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, in Fort Worth, Texas. "I think as you've seen, the change to Ford, which everybody thought we were insane, I think the bottom line is we've got more resources and things we can keep within our own walls".

Kevin Harvick gave the checkered flag to a young fan he brought onto the track to take a selfie - one with the winning driver and vehicle that will have a shot at another NASCAR Cup championship.

After the first of the late restarts, Harvick was on the inside and was able to keep Blaney from clearing him on the backstretch. He nearly won last week at Martinsville to ensure the chance for a championship repeat before Joey Logano's bump-and-run move on the last lap. I figured when he took the top, it was going to take a really good push and position into 1 to have a prayer at it. However, a three-car incident involving Bubba Wallace, Chris Buescher, and Matt Dibenedetto caused headache for more than just the latter who suffered major damage late in the race. They are above the cut line, but Clint Boywer, Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch or Chase Elliott could advance with a win.

Truex has a 25-point cushion on the current playoff cutoff going into the second race of the three-race third (semifinal) round of the Cup playoffs, ESPN notes. It's been either, we're in position to win, we've run up front all day, or something really stupid happens, or insane happens, like here in Texas.

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Kyle Busch was 17th and Bowyer 26th after starting on the front row but making contact with Denny Hamlin on the first lap.

Harvick knew that Blaney would have to be ideal on the restart to beat him and once Blaney's left tires clipped the apron Harvick was off to his second career win at TMS. We got by him one restart and I just couldn't hold him off. ... "He motored around me".

The defending series champion posted the 13th fastest time in time trials on Friday and was third-fastest in final practice on Saturday, but an engine change after that session will mean another race in which Truex will have to overcome a lack of initial track position.

Of those only Logano was a factor as he led 54 laps. "If we don't make that call, I think (media) would be asking why we didn't".

"Just traffic was so bad and so hard to pass.

There's no question", Truex said after the race. It gets you loose and it's a handful.

It was a very adventurous race for all eight of the playoff drivers as many fought through difficulties on pit road and on the track.

But when Harvick moved to SHR from Richard Childress Racing beginning with the 2014 season at age 38, there were no guarantees of success.

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