FORT WORTH, TX (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Stewart Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick is locked into the NASCAR Championship finale after winning Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
“A lot of work put into the race,” said Harvick. “We knew this was a good race track for us. We felt like it fit our style of cars and man did it.”
Harvick started on the pole position and led 119-laps but had to overcome a pit road violation to pick up his third victory at Texas, 4th victory of 2019 and 49th career victory.
“We go put in the back there for the pit road violation and I didn’t really know what was going to happen,” said Harvick. “We had a bad restart after that and then all of a sudden we got on a different set of tires, on a different cycle, and we made our way back to the front so it was a fast car.”
Harvick’s SHR teammates Aric Almirola and Daniel Suarez finished second and third to give team owner Tony Stewart a podium sweep and one car with a shot at a Championship in the season finale at Homestead Miami Speedway.
“You know, this is one of those tracks, and Phoenix next week is one that — they’re kind of Kevin and Rodney’s (Childers, Harvick’s Crew Chief) playgrounds, so to speak, or have been historically” said Stewart. “You hate to have to rely on Phoenix to get you in that position, but to be able to knock it out like they did today and do it in such a dominant fashion, that’s the kind of day that sets a statement to the competition that we feel like our team is peaking at the right time and getting ready for the end of the year.”
Team Penske’s Joey Logano finished fourth and Hendrick Motorsports Alex Bowman rounded out the Top 5.
Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Martin Truex Jr and Kyle Busch finished sixth and seventh respectively, followed by Penske’s Ryan Blaney.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch finished ninth in the No. 1 Monster Energy Camaro. Busch’s CGR teammate, Kyle Larson, brought the No. 42 McDonalds Chevrolet home in 12th place. Larson’s 12th place finish left him in seventh place in the playoff standings, 23-points behind Logano for the fourth and final Championship spot.
Two playoff drivers suffered poor finishes at Texas. JRG’s Denny Hamlin finished 28th and Hendrick Motorsports Chase Elliott finished 32nd. Hamlin and Elliott both made contact with the wall but were able to continue. Hamlin fell out of the top 4 in the points standings as a result and Elliott heads into Phoenix in a must-win situation.
The final race of NASCAR’s Round of Eight Playoffs is next week at ISM Raceway outside Phoenix.