Harvick Warrants His Shot At NASCAR Cup Title With Victory In Texas

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It was his eighth win of the season, which is tops in the series.

Harvick rocketed past polesitter Ryan Blaney in overtime Sunday, after the third restart in the final 35 laps, to win the Texas fall race for the second year in a row and take one of the four championship-contending spots for the season finale in two weeks.

The victory was Harvick's first since MI in August, and it broke a streak of bad luck during which the driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford led laps but failed to find Victory Lane, thanks to mechanical issues or pit road mistakes. "This place has been really good to me". We finally knocked that barrier down (with a win in last year's Playoff race at TMS).

"The expectations are to win", Harvick told reporters. "That was really the only shot we had to beat him, to be honest with you".

For drivers who do not win a race, a maximum of 55 points are on the table.

He finished three laps off the pace and will need to win in Phoenix to advance to Homestead.

With less than 60 laps remaining in the second stage, Harvick maintained a small lead over Logano with Kurt Busch running in third.

The only stress for Harvick was lane choice for the overtime.

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

After the first of the late restarts, Harvick was on the inside and was able to keep Blaney from clearing him on the backstretch.

Then Harvick was off into the Texas sunset.

"They were hard. They were challenging", Blaney said about the restarts. I kind of figured he'd take the top. "It all worked out". We got by him one restart and I just couldn't hold him off. ... "We went in side-by-side". If that is the way he wants to race me when he is already locked into Homestead and we are out here fighting for our lives, that is fine.

Harvick was the only one of so-called Big Three to avoid trouble on Sunday.

On Lap 143, Kyle Busch was forced to pit a second time under green because he thought he had a loose wheel.

The conditions in Texas led to a race that was more about strategy and position than pure speed or driver ability, a fact that frustrated some of the drivers. Martin Truex Jr. almost pulled of the come-from-behind win but was nudged and passed by Logano in the final turn. He then recovered from a pass-through penalty and a loose tire, managing to fight his way back to a ninth place finish. He was followed by Kurt Busch and Jones.

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