It took a while bit Kevin Harvick finally scored win number eight of the season.
Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway turned into a day of avoiding mistakes for most of the playoff drivers, which Harvick was able to do. Throw in the fact he led a race-high 177 laps and was able to muscle by Ryan Blaney in on overtime finish and that pretty much sums up the day in the Lone Star State.
After a dramatic and controversial finish a week ago with Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr. banging off one another at Martinsville, the scene shifted to the high-speed and wide open spaces of the 1.5-mile TMS. That meant another opportunity for Harvick and company to flex their muscles and the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team made the most of it. Harvick swept the day winning the first two stages and taking the checkered flag.
This year will be the fifth edition of the Championship 4 finale format at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Harvick will make his fourth appearance joining Logano as half of quartet locked in to the title race.
There hasn’t been much of a question of whether Harvick would have a chance to run for a second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title. Eight wins speaks for itself.
It’s true anything can happen in two weeks in Miami. But not having Harvick part of the championship equation never seemed like it was possible.
Thanks to his Texas win Sunday, it’s not.
- Seven drivers went to the rear of the field giving up their qualifying spots after Friday’s time trials. Some like Martin Truex Jr. and Daniel Suarez were because of engine changes. But others were sent to the rear after failing inspection for a variety of violations with the likes of Jimmie Johnson, William Byron and Aric Almirola on that list. No matter the weekend format inspection remains a focal point that unnecessarily takes the focus of the race. Pre-race should be a time to build energy, excitement and anticipation for what’s on the horizon, not a roulette wheel of who and who doesn’t make it through inspection. It doesn’t matter if you think the tolerances are too tight or if teams should come to inspection within the boundaries of the rulebook. Either way it shouldn’t be a storyline but cannot be ignored.
- Johnson being sent to the rear was compounded by the fact it was a mistake on NASCAR’s part. Since the No. 48 Chevy only failed inspection twice not three times, sending Johnson to the back of the field was not the proper penalty. See: NASCAR Apologizes to Johnson
- It was interesting after last week’s controversy over contact between Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr. to decide the Martinsville race there was little to no discussion about Saturday’s Xfinity Series Texas finish. Cole Custer hit Tyler Reddick pretty hard as the duo battled for the top spot on the final lap. Custer was able to go ahead to win while Reddick maintained control of his car to finish second. It wasn’t a “dump and run” by any means but there was contact nonetheless. Reddick wasn’t as outspoken about it like Truex Jr. was last week in Martinsville perhaps diffusing the incident before it had a chance to fester.
- Justin Haley will go down as the winner of Friday night’s Camping World Truck Series race but Todd Gilliland made a mark of his own. Gilliland came within a half lap of scoring his first career win until he ran out of fuel on the backstretch. It opened the door for Haley who sped by to take the checkered flag and earn his spot in the Championship 4 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. However the way the young Gilliland managed the disappointment and expressed his thoughts afterward was truly remarkable for such a young driver. Gilliland may not have won the race but he earned a great deal of respect around the sport Friday night.
- This was the final tripleheader November weekend at Texas with the 2019 schedule changes on the horizon. While the Truck Series will continue to race twice a year at TMS, they will join the Cup and Xfinity Series at the spring NASCAR weekend. The Trucks will also remain part of the track’s annual June Indy Car Series visit and compete on Friday night before the traditional Texas open wheel date.
The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.