Harvick runs down Truex Jr. for win in Texas

Kevin Harvick celebrated his first-career Texas victory
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Martin Truex Jr. isn't invincible after all.

Kevin Harvick put a serious dent in Truex's sense of invulnerability on Sunday afternoon, passing Truex with nine laps left in the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway and pulling away to win by 1.580 seconds.

In beating this year's unrivaled master of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series' 1.5-mile intermediate speedways, Harvick earned a spot in the Nov. 19 Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, which Harvick won the first title contested under an elimination format in 2014.

The driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford won for the first time at Texas, denying Truex the same accomplishment and ending Truex's streak of wins on intermediate tracks at four. The victory was Harvick's second of the season and the 37th of his career.

"Damn, it's good to be in Victory Lane here in Texas," Harvick said. "I knew I had a really good car. I knew I had to do something different. I started driving a whole lot deeper in (Turn) 1 – a whole lot deeper.

"I started doing that earlier in the race, but I was afraid I didn't have the brakes to continue to do that all day. So I waited until the end and was able to get on the outside of Martin (off Turn 2) and got him loose and brushed across the back of him and was able to get by on the outside down there."

As consolation, Truex clinched a berth at Homestead on points, leaving Texas 57 points ahead of fifth-place finisher Brad Keselowski, who is fourth in the standings with a 19-point edge over fifth-place Denny Hamlin (third on Sunday).

"At the start of the race, our car wasn't very good," said Truex, who led a race-high 107 laps to bring his season total to 2,175. "Track position was a big part of this race. We fought the car. We fought track position. We got the lead, led some laps. Ultimately, at the end, we weren't as good as we needed to be to win.

"A little disappointed to come up short, but to clinch a spot in Miami is unbelievable. Definitely got the job done today and came here and did what we needed to do."

With Kyle Busch having earned his spot in the championship race by winning last Sunday at Martinsville, one berth remains as the series heads for the final race in the Round of 8 next Sunday at Phoenix.

After Kyle Larson clobbered the outside wall in Turn 2 on Lap 282 and ended his race in a fireball against the fence to cause the eighth and final caution of the event, Truex cleared then-race leader Hamlin off Turn 2 during a Lap 289 restart and pulled out to a half-second lead.

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Kevin Harvick (4) crosses the finish line at Texas
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

arvick grabbed fourth from Kasey Kahne after the restart, passed Joey Logano for third on Lap 300 and got past Hamlin for second on Lap 307. Then it was a matter of tracking down Truex.

On Lap 314 Harvick closed dramatically when Truex slowed behind a knot of lapped cars entering Turn 1. Hounding Truex for the next 10 circuits, Harvick finally made the pass on Lap 325 of 334.

"He got to my outside and was just faster at the end," Truex said. "Once he got in front of us, he was just gone. Nothing I could do. Just one of those deals where he was quicker. Got me in a bad spot, took advantage, and he was gone."

Veteran Matt Kenseth ran fourth, after saying this weekend he likely will step away from the sport at the end of the season, with no concrete job lined up for next year. Playoff driver Ryan Blaney ran sixth and heads to Phoenix sixth in the standings, three points behind Hamlin.

Hendrick Motorsports drivers Chase Elliott and Jimmie Johnson are mired in seventh and eighth places, respectively, almost certainly needing a victory at Phoenix to advance to the Championship 4. Elliott came home eighth at Texas. Johnson lost two laps early because of an unscheduled pit stop and finished 27th, three laps down, his hopes for a record eighth title suffering a telling blow.

Results

Fin Str No. Driver Team Laps Pts Status
1 3 4 Kevin Harvick (P) Mobil 1 Ford 334 59 Running
2 7 78 Martin Truex Jr. (P) Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Toyota 334 51 Running
3 2 11 Denny Hamlin (P) FedEx Office Toyota 334 47 Running
4 35 20 Matt Kenseth XFINITY Team USA Toyota 334 40 Running
5 10 2 Brad Keselowski (P) Wurth Ford 334 32 Running
6 8 21 Ryan Blaney (P) Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford 334 42 Running
7 36 22 Joey Logano AAA Ford 334 30 Running
8 34 24 Chase Elliott (P) Hooters Chevrolet 334 35 Running
9 1 41 Kurt Busch Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford 334 38 Running
10 4 77 Erik Jones # Sport Clips Toyota 334 34 Running
11 19 5 Kasey Kahne Great Clips/Justice League Chevrolet 334 26 Running
12 12 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Fastenal Ford 334 25 Running
13 15 3 Austin Dillon Winter in PyeongChang Chevrolet 334 27 Running
14 6 19 Daniel Suarez # ARRIS Toyota 334 24 Running
15 18 43 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford 334 22 Running
16 16 47 AJ Allmendinger Kroger ClickList Chevrolet 334 21 Running
17 14 10 Danica Patrick Aspen Dental $10M for Veterans Ford 333 20 Running
18 13 1 Jamie McMurray Cessna Chevrolet 333 19 Running
19 5 18 Kyle Busch (P) M&M's Caramel Toyota 333 18 Running
20 25 31 Ryan Newman Grainger Chevrolet 333 17 Running
21 23 95 Michael McDowell Rohto Jolt Eyedrops Chevrolet 333 16 Running
22 26 37 Chris Buescher Bush's Chili Beans Chevrolet 333 15 Running
23 21 27 Paul Menard Atlas/Menards Chevrolet 332 14 Running
24 27 13 Ty Dillon # GEICO Military Chevrolet 332 13 Running
25 28 32 Matt DiBenedetto Can-Am/Kappa Ford 332 12 Running
26 22 34 Landon Cassill Love's Travel Stops/SpeedCo Ford 331 11 Running
27 9 48 Jimmie Johnson (P) Lowe's Chevrolet 331 10 Running
28 37 6 Trevor Bayne AdvoCare Ford 330 9 Running
29 29 72 Cole Whitt TriStar Motorsports Chevrolet 330 8 Running
30 24 38 David Ragan TheHouse.com Ford 329 7 Running
31 38 15 Reed Sorenson Low T Centers Chevrolet 325 6 Running
32 30 7 Joey Gase(i) DonateLifeTexas.org Chevrolet 322 0 Running
33 32 33 Jeffrey Earnhardt hulu Chevrolet 322 4 Running
34 31 51 Ray Black II(i) Scuba Life Chevrolet 305 0 Running
35 17 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Nationwide/Justice League Chevrolet 304 2 Running
36 20 14 Clint Bowyer Rush Truck Centers/Mobil Delvac 1 Ford 303 1 Running
37 11 42 Kyle Larson Credit One Bank Chevrolet 282 18 Accident
38 33 66 David Starr(i) Moore Freight Service Chevrolet 237 0 Accident
39 39 23 Corey LaJoie # Dr Pepper Toyota 227 1 Engine
40 40 83 Gray Gaulding # Earthwater Toyota 159 1 Engine

(P) = In Playoffs
# = Rookie

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