FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Kevin Harvick earned a shot at another NASCAR Cup championship, rocketing past polesitter Ryan Blaney in overtime Sunday to win at Texas.
Another late caution led to a third restart in the final 35 laps, each time with Harvick leading. Harvick led 177 of the 337 laps.
After taking the inside on the first two restarts, and briefly losing the lead after the second one, Harvick opted to start from outside for the green-white-checkered finish. By time they got to the backstretch, Harvick had pushed his No. 4 Ford in front and raced to his eighth win of this season.
“I thought if I could keep him from finishing the corner I could drive back by him,” Harvick said. “It all worked out.”
It is the second year in a row that Harvick, the 2014 Cup champion, won the fall race at Texas to get into the final four. Of his 32 starts in the Lone Star State, his only two wins are the last two fall races, but those are among his 20 top-10 finishes there.
“This place has been really good to me. I’m glad we got the win again here,” he said.
Harvick also won both stages at the 1 1/2-mile Texas track, the fourth time this season he did that and went on to win the race.
With Joey Logano and Harvick locked in after winning the past two races, the series goes to Phoenix next week with only two spots up for grabs for the championship run at Homestead in two weeks.
Kyle Busch, a seven-time winner this year, and defending Cup champion Martin Truex Jr. are among the other six title contenders. They are comfortably above the cut line for points, but Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch or Chase Elliott could advance with a win in Phoenix
After the first of the late restarts, Harvick was on the inside and was able to keep Blaney from clearing him on the backstretch. Harvick was already starting to rebuild his lead — it had been nearly 4 seconds before the caution — when another yellow flag came out.
Harvick was on the inside again for the next restart, before Blaney was able to get by him on the outside and into the lead. Blaney led seven laps before Harvick went under him and was again putting distance between them before Joey Gase’s spin brought out the last of eight cautions.
“They were hard. They were challenging,” Blaney said about the restarts. “That was really the only shot we had to beat him, to be honest with you. We got by him one restart and I just couldn’t hold him off. … The last one, he took the top, like I knew he was going to go. He motored around me.”
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.
Truex had to start at the rear of the field because of an engine change. He also 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.
Logano was third at Texas. 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. Kyle Busch was 17th and Bowyer 26th after starting on the front row but making contact with Denny Hamlin on the first lap.
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