Kevin Harvick wins at Texas, advances to Championship 4; so does Truex

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Kevin Harvick took advantage of a Martin Truex Jr. mistake with 10 laps to go, took the lead and held on for the win in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

In earning his first Cup win at Texas, Harvick had been chasing Truex for more than 10 laps when Truex wiggled in Turn 2 on Lap 324. Harvick took the lead and held off Truex the remainder of the way.

“Damn, it’s good to be in victory lane here at Texas,” Harvick said in a fronstretch interview after the race on NBCSN. “I waited until the end and got (Truex) loose.”

By winning, Harvick becomes the second driver to have an automatic berth in the NASCAR Cup championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in two weeks. Kyle Busch is the other, having won last Sunday at Martinsville.

Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner Tony Stewart is bullish on Harvick’s championship chances, telling NBCSN, “I’ve seen this movie. I know how this one ends. … When we get locked in like that, he rises to the occasion.”

Harvick, who has now won 37 career Cup races, is seeking his second NASCAR Cup title, having won the inaugural title under the new playoff format in 2014.

Even though he failed to win for a seventh time on a 1.5-mile track this season, Truex still leaves Texas a happy man, knowing he has also advanced to the Championship 4 race on points, leaving just one spot remaining to be filled next week in the penultimate race of the season at Phoenix.

“It’s been an awesome season,” Truex said. “I love this team. We’re really excited about Homestead and looking forward to get another win.”

Truex finished second, followed by Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski.

Sixth through 10th were Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch and Erik Jones.

Harvick led 34 laps, while Truex led the most laps (103).

Stage 2 winner Kyle Larson suffered his third straight DNF, hitting the wall hard on Lap 282, leading to a fire in the rear of his Chevrolet.

Larson was able to get out of the car safely, but the race was put under a 10 minute, 29 second red flag stoppage for track cleanup.

“It’s frustrating because I knew I had the best car,” Larson told NBCSN. “Tried to find some stuff and you get in the wall. … I can’t wait for the last lap at Homestead.”

STAGE WINNERS: Kevin Harvick (Stage 1), Kyle Larson (Stage 2)

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Even though his wiggle 10 laps from the finish cost him the win, Martin Truex Jr. still had a great day, knowing he clinched a spot on points for the championship-deciding race in two weeks at Miami. … One day after announcing he will likely be on hiatus next season, Matt Kenseth finished fourth.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Clint Bowyer’s rough season continued. He finished 38th, seeing his day end after just 202 laps due to apparent gear problems. … Seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson struggled miserably, finishing 27th, three laps behind the leaders.

NOTABLE: Truex’s average in the playoffs is 2.28 (minus his Talladega finish). … Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch were involved in a first-lap crash that put both drivers one lap down of the leaders. But they both battled back through the first two stages, and finished fifth (Keselowski) and 19th (Busch), respectively.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It’s been quite a year. It’s been a lot of work for the guys to get to where we are today. I’m really proud of everybody at Stewart Haas for what we’ve done and hopefully we can do it again in Homestead.” – Race winner Kevin Harvick.

WHAT’S NEXT: Can-Am 500 at Phoenix Raceway; Sunday, Nov. 12, 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

NASCAR Open starting lineup at Bristol

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Michael McDowell will start on the pole for the NASCAR Open at Bristol Motor Speedway after a random draw. Aric Almirola joins him on the front row.

Click here for NASCAR Open starting lineup

The winners of each segment advance to the All-Star Race, along with the fan vote winner. Last year, Kyle Larson won a segment in the Open to advance to the All-Star Race and then won that event. Other segment winners last year were William Byron and Bubba Wallace. Alex Bowman advanced through the fan vote a year ago. Bowman has already qualified for this year’s All-Star Race.

 

NASCAR Open at Bristol 

Race Time: 7 p.m. ET Wednesday

Track: Bristol Motor Speedway; Bristol, Tennessee (0.533-mile speedway)

Length: 85 laps over three segments, 45.3 miles

Segments: Segment 1 is 35 laps. Segment 2 is 35 laps. Segment 3 is 15 laps.

TV coverage: FS1

Radio: Performance Racing Network (also SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Streaming: Fox Sports app (subscription required); goprn.com and SiriusXM for audio (subscription required)

Next Xfinity race: Saturday at Texas (200 laps, 300 miles), 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Next Truck race: Saturday at Texas (167 laps, 250.5 miles) 8 p.m. ET on FS1

Martin Truex Jr. to start on pole for All-Star Race at Bristol

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Martin Truex Jr., who is seeking his first All-Star Race win, will start on the pole for Wednesday night’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway after a random draw.

Truex will be joined on the front row by Alex Bowman.

Rookie Cole Custer, who earned a spot in the All-Star Race with his win Sunday at Kentucky, will start eighth.

Click here for All-Star Lineup

  • Positions 17-19 will go to segment winners from the NASCAR Open. The 20th starting spot goes to the fan vote winner, which will be announced after the NASCAR Open

Among the special rules for the race:

# The Chose Rule will be used. As drivers approach a designated spot on the track, they must commit to the inside or outside lane for the restart.

# The car number will move from the door toward the rear wheel to give sponsors more exposure.

# Cars that have automatically qualified for the All-Star Race will have underglow lights on their cars.

 

NASCAR All-Star Race at Bristol 

Race Time: 8:30 p.m. ET Wednesday

Track: Bristol Motor Speedway; Bristol, Tennessee (0.533-mile speedway)

Length: 140 laps over four segments, 74.6 miles

Segments: Segment 1 is 55 laps. Segment 2 is 35 laps. Segment 3 is 35 laps. Segment 4 is 15 laps (only green flag laps count in this segment).

TV coverage: FS1

Radio: Performance Racing Network (also SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Streaming: Fox Sports app (subscription required); goprn.com and SiriusXM for audio (subscription required)

Next Xfinity race: Saturday at Texas (200 laps, 300 miles), 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Next Truck race: Saturday at Texas (167 laps, 250.5 miles) 8 p.m. ET on FS1

Xfinity playoff grid after Kentucky doubleheader

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The Xfinity Series went to Kentucky Speedway for a doubleheader and Austin Cindric left the track with two wins and a spot in the playoffs.

Cindric, who claimed the first oval track NASCAR wins of his career, is now third on the playoff grid among the six drivers locked into the postseason. He has 15 playoff points.

Noah Gragson, who is second on the grid, won three of four stages in Kentucky and has 18 playoff points.

Six spots remain to be filled on the playoff grid. The last two drivers currently in the top 12 are Ryan Sieg (+57 points above cutline) and Brandon Brown (+14).

The first four drivers outside the top 12 are Myatt Snider (-14 points from cutline), Jeremy Clements (-30), Alex Labbe (-42) and Jesse Little (-47).

Cup playoff grid after Kentucky Speedway

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Cole Custer delivered the first curveball to the NASCAR Cup Series’ playoff chase Sunday when he won at Kentucky Speedway.

Custer entered the race 25th in the points, nine spots back from the cutoff line for 16-driver field.

Now, Custer is one of nine drivers locked into the playoffs, meaning the cutoff for the postseason is 15th in points.

Among those currently in the playoff grid who are not locked in, the last two are William Byron (+30 points) and Jimmie Johnson (+24).

The first four drivers sitting outside a playoff spot are Austin Dillon (-24 points from cutoff), Tyler Reddick (-41), Erik Jones (-42) and Bubba Wallace (-84).