Kevin Harvick Tames Treacherous Texas

credit: Lisa Janine Cloud/Skirts and Scuffs

by Lisa Janine Cloud

Kevin Harvick held off Ryan Blaney in a late-race restart to win the AAA Texas 500 in overtime at Texas Motor Speedway. He then won a fan for life by lifting a boy out of the stands, setting him down in front of the race-winning No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford, and taking a selfie with him.

"Sometimes I need a reminder of what you mean to people, and why you come to these races," Harvick explained.

He led five times for 177 out of 334 laps and scored both stage wins en route to securing his spot in the finale of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. While he was dominant, he was not handed the win. Young Blaney made him work for it in the last few restarts, even wresting the lead from him at one point. But in the final faceoff, Harvick made a wise lane choice that helped him hang on to the lead.

“That last restart I knew I needed to pick the top," Harvick said. “I wanted to be on the bottom to be safe, because the top got such a good sidedraft getting into one, and the outside groove got rubbered up. I thought if I could keep him from finishing the corner, I could drive back by him. It all worked out.”

Blaney finished second after leading three times for 40 laps.

“We got by the 4 on that one restart, but I just couldn’t hold him off. He was really good," Blaney said. "I kind of missed one and two by an inch and he took advantage of it. We needed to be mistake free and then some, and I just couldn’t be that. Then we had another shot at it. The last one, he took the top like I knew he was going to, and he motored around me.”

In third was Joey Logano, last week’s winner, who applauded Harvick’s victory. Logano led four times for 54 laps.

“We had a top-five car,” Logano said. “We got out front where we could lead laps for a little bit, and just when the front tires would give up, that is when the 4 was just stellar. He was stupid fast. He was able to do a lot. Congrats to them. That is two Fords in and two to go.”

“Our SportClips Camry was pretty fast and had okay speed,” said Erik Jones, who finished fourth. “Just didn’t have the fire-off speed that we needed to contend there the last short runs, but a good day for us. Running top five, top 10 – we kind of know what we need to work on to get a little bit more to get up there with the 4, the 12 and those guys. We’ll go to work. Texas has been a good place, so hopefully,we can come back in the spring and get a win.”

As for the other Playoff contenders, Chase Elliott wound up in sixth and is not a fan of the repaved and reconfigured track.

“Yeah, just a really frustrating race track ever since they ruined it two years ago. I hate that,” he said.

Elliott is in a must-win position going into Phoenix to advance to the finale, 39 points below the cut line.

Kurt Busch wound up seventh and is 25 points below the line.

“We are in a good position,” Busch stated. “There are a lot of other people who would like to be right here. We just didn’t have the speed the 4 car had today and hopefully we will get it next week.”

 Aric Almirola ended up eighth and expressed displeasure with Logano.

“We were a third-place car, and that restart there where we finally were in position," Almirola said. "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.

"The 22 just went down in Turn 3 and put it right on my door and about wrecked us both. I am not sure. I will have to talk to him. He just continues to make things harder on himself. 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. When Homestead comes around, if I am not in, he will know it.”

When asked how far he would take it, Almirola stated, “I will just make it really difficult on him. He made it really difficult on me today which was really unnecessary. He could have run fourth, fifth, 11th, it doesn't matter. He is still going to go to Homestead and race for a championship. It is just not smart.”

Martin Truex Jr. finished ninth after starting from the back, while Kyle Busch wound up 17th. Both Toyotas had difficulties throughout the race.

Kevin Harvick Tames Treacherous Texas Kevin Harvick Tames Treacherous Texas Reviewed by Janine Cloud on Sunday, November 04, 2018 Rating: 5