Martin Truex Jr.’s winning streak at 1.5-mile tracks is over. And it was broken by Kevin Harvick.
Harvick passed Truex with less than 10 laps to go Sunday to get his first win at Texas Motor Speedway. The victory clinches a berth for Harvick to race for the championship at Homestead on Nov. 19. And the second-place finish does for Truex too.
Truex’s points cushion is enough that he’s mathematically guaranteed a spot in the final four alongside Harvick and last week’s winner Kyle Busch. The fourth and final title contender will be determined at Phoenix next week.
Harvick has been very good at Texas throughout his career. But never recorded a win. He had a top-five car all day and ran down Truex over the final 25 laps of the race as Truex battled through lapped traffic.
Truex entered Sunday’s race with four-straight wins at 1.5-mile tracks. As he was out front as the laps ticked down, it seemed inevitable he was heading for a fifth-straight triumph. But Harvick took advantage of a bobble and darted past.
“We have been qualifying well here and racing well ever since I have been at Stewart-Haas Racing and just never got it to work out to go to victory lane,” Harvick said. “Today we had to earn it. To be able to pass [Truex] for the win is something that is huge for our confidence and team knowing we need to go to another 1.5 mile at Homestead to race for the championship.”
Sunday’s race was eventful from the first lap. Busch slid up the track in the first two turns and hit Brad Keselowski. The contact damaged Busch’s car and cut a tire on Keselowski’s car, forcing both to hit pit road. Keselowski battled back to finish fifth while Busch finished 19th.
Given that Busch was already in the final four thanks to his Martinsville win, the contact was far more impactful for Keselowski. But thanks to some good strategy and fortune, Keselowski currently occupies the final tentative spot in the championship round.
He has a 19-point advantage over Denny Hamlin, who finished third on Sunday. If Keselowski, Hamlin, Blaney, Elliott or Johnson wins at Phoenix, the victorious driver will join Busch, Harvick and Truex in the final four. If one of those five drivers don’t win, the driver with the most points among them will get to the final four.
1. Martin Truex Jr., 4,168 points [Clinched]
2. Kyle Busch [Won at Martinsville]
3. Kevin Harvick [Won at Texas]
4. Brad Keselowski, 4,111 points
5. Denny Hamlin, 4,092 points
6. Ryan Blaney, 4,089 points
7. Chase Elliott, 4,062 points
8. Jimmie Johnson, 4,060 points
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