Harvick makes Championship 4 with OT win at Texas

Truex holds to his line on Logano			Image by Matthew Thacker  LAT

Truex holds to his line on Logano Image by Matthew Thacker LAT

Kevin Harvick pulled away from the field during an overtime restart to win the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, earning his eighth victory of the year and a guaranteed spot in the Championship 4 final round of NASCAR's playoffs.

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

Harvick started on the inside on restarts on laps 303 and 311.

Harvick knew that Blaney would have to be flawless 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.

Kurt Busch (41) and Kevin Harvick (4) lead the pack down the front stretch on a restart during a NASCAR Cup auto race at Texas Motor Speedway, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, in Fort Worth, Texas.

Truex, who was close to clinching a title spot before that bump-and-run by Logano on the final lap to win at Martinsville last week, finished ninth after at Texas.

Below the cutline after Texas are Kurt Busch (-25 point from fourth), Chase Elliott (-39), Aric Almirola (-57) and Bowyer (-73).

"That last restart I knew I needed to pick the top", Harvick said after the race. "To start exactly where we were I think is a decent day". "He motored around me".

Defending Cup champion Martin Truex Jr., who had to start at the back of the field after an engine change, was fifth in the first stage, just ahead of Logano and Kyle Busch. 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.

On Lap 97, Jimmie Johnson got loose and spun in Turn 3 as his teammate, William Byron, plowed into the back of him to bring out a caution. "The only difference is there's one less spot available". "The 22 (Logano) just went down in turn three and put it right on my door and about wrecked us both".

"He just continues to make things harder on himself", Almirola said.

There were several other cars also pushed to the rear for other issues, including the No. 48 of Jimmie Johnson after failing prerace inspection twice.

He passed inspection on the third try, and should have been able to start in his original qualifying spot.

Neither Truex nor Kyle Busch had a great race on Sunday, though they salvaged reasonable results to stay well above the playoff cut line.

"There is no format for the teams to communicate to the tower".

Harvick was one of the few playoff contenders who was able to put his day together. "I don't know how they do it".

"You never want to lose those types of days", said Harvick, who has finished in the top three in six of the last 10 races at TMS. Buescher's JTG-Daugherty organization is using a Hendrick Motorsports engine for the first time next season. Today he has earned his way in and he is going to attempt to be triumphant in another race and see what can be done on the home ground.

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