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Harvick takes Texas to clinch championship spot

07 November 2018

He cleared Blaney on the first restart but lost the lead on the second one and had to track Blaney down to take the lead back. That put him in position to line up where he wanted on the final restart after a Joey Gase accident brought out the eighth caution of the race.

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.

Kyle Busch, also a seven-time victor this year, and defending Cup champion Martin Truex Jr. are among the other six title contenders. Elliott was sixth, followed by Kurt Busch and Almirola, who had also gone to the rear at the start of the race for unapproved body modifications.

Harvick led 177 of the 337 laps during the event, and appeared on his way to an easy win after passing leader Ryan Blaney with 17 laps remaining. Kurt Busch found himself in third as a result, giving the Las Vegas-native an opportunity to advance in the running order.

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"I figured he wouldn't make that move three times", said Blaney. 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 the first of the late restarts, Harvick was on the inside and was able to keep Blaney from clearing him on the backstretch.

It took Harvick seven laps of chasing to regain the lead, but in the two-lap overtime, he didn't have the luxury of time to mount a pursuit. "That was really the only shot we had to beat him, to be honest with you".

"We were a third place auto and that restart there where we finally were in position we fought all day from the back and started at the tail and worked diligently all day to get up to the front and finally got ourselves in position to at least have a shot and race with those guys", Almirola said of the final restart of the day.

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"The 42 (Larson) gave me a heck of a push, but I didn't quite get far enough ahead of the 4 into (Turn) 1", Blaney said. The last one, he took the top, like I knew he was going to go.

Of those only Logano was a factor as he led 54 laps.

A caution with 38 laps to go created an interesting kink in the pit strategy of many who debated whether or not to pit for tires and fuel, that being the looming question mark throughout Sunday's race.

Bowyer was involved in first-lap rub with Denny Hamlin.

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"I'm really, really proud of everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing for these cars we've had for five years now", Harvick said. Logano finished third a week after securing his playoff spot.

Harvick takes Texas to clinch championship spot