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Kevin Harvick dominates Stage 2 at Texas

Kevin Harvick dominates Stage 2 at Texas”

Joey Logano is the only driver locked into the championship with his win at Martinsville Speedway last weekend, when he executed a bump-and-run on Truex on the final corner of the final lap.

"I don't know what genius chose to pave this place or take the banking out of [Turns] 1 and 2", Chase Elliot told reporters. "Today we earned our way in and we're going to race again next week and try to win another race and then see what we can do at Homestead", Harvick concluded. He won both stages Sunday, marking the fourth time this year he did that and went on to win the race.

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.

The 2014 champion joins Joey Logano of Team Penske - who won last weekend's Round of 8 race at Martinsville Speedway - in securing a berth in the season-ending, championship-deciding race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in two weeks.

Kyle Busch, also a seven-time victor this year, and defending Cup champion Martin Truex Jr. are among the other six title contenders.

Below the cutline after Texas are Kurt Busch (-25 point from fourth), Chase Elliott (-39), Aric Almirola (-57) and Bowyer (-73).

Clint Bowyer, a title contender who started on the front row with Blaney, made contact with Denny Hamlin after sliding up on the track in the first turn on the first lap.

With less than 60 laps remaining in the second stage, Harvick maintained a small lead over Logano with Kurt Busch running in third. Harvick was already starting to rebuild his lead - it had been almost 4 seconds before the caution - when another yellow flag came out.

When the green-flag cycle of stops had completed on Lap 160, Harvick returned to the lead, followed by Jimmie Johnson, Blaney, Truex and Keselowski.

"That last restart I knew I needed to pick the top", Harvick said. I figured when he took the top, it was going to take a really good push and position into 1 to have a prayer at it. "We nearly caught him the first restart up top and then I did on the second one". "That was really the only shot we had to beat him, to be honest with you. He motored around me".

Martin Truex Jr. came to pit road early on Lap 247 to correct a loose left front wheel and in the process drove through too many pit boxes entering his stall. If I sailed off in there as fast as he did, I would have got loose, wrecked us both. "The only difference is there's one less spot available".

"He just continues to make things harder on himself", Almirola said.

"We were a third place auto and that restart there where we finally were in position 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", Almirola said of the final restart of the day. Buescher's JTG-Daugherty organization is using a Hendrick Motorsports engine for the first time next season.



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