For the first time in 3 weeks, NASCAR fans didn’t witness a massive wreck or any drama. Three weeks ago it was chaos at Talladega Superspeedway, two weeks ago it was a major wreck at Kansas Speedway, and last week it was the drama between Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin. This week, however, at Texas Motor Speedway, it was nothing but hard racing.
As soon as the green flag flew, drivers were anxious. Entering Turn 1, Kyle Busch in the #18 Toyota and Brad Keselowski in the #2 Ford got together when Busch slid up the track. Neither wrecked and the caution flag did not appear but both suffered damage that would hinder them throughout the day. Busch went to pit-road with right-front damage and Keselowski followed with a flat, left-rear tire. Both the #2 and the #18 lost 2 laps down. Keselowski was able to un-lap himself and went on to finish 5th. Busch, on the other hand, was only able to make up one lap and finished 19th.
The rest of the stage was clear, without any cautions, and it was Kevin Harvick who claimed the stage victory. After failing pre-qualifying inspection, Chase Elliott started the race in the 36th position. By the end of the first stage, Elliott was in 11th place.
Stage Two only saw one caution when Kasey Kahne and rookie Daniel Suarez spun on Lap 93. Kahne got loose in the corner causing Suarez to lightly tap the back of him. Neither car was damaged. The #42 Chevrolet took the stage win after battling for the lead with Denny Hamlin.
The 3rd and final stage consisted of just as much hard racing as the first two segments. Only now, the temperatures inside the cars were reaching 120+ degrees Fahrenheit, so everyone’s patience was wearing thin. On Lap 180, Landon Cassill spun by himself in Turn 3. Later, on Lap 234, Micheal McDowell spun right in front of the leaders.
With 90 laps remaining in the race, Dale Earnhardt Jr went to the garage with a mechanical issue that he described as a burnt right hub. The team was able to repair it and send Jr back onto the track where he would finish in the 36th position, but 30-laps down.
With 51 to go, Kyle Larson got loose coming off the corner of Turn 4 and smacked the wall hard. Heading into Turn 1, Larson was sent spinning up the track into the SAFER barrier. He hit the wall twice and then erupted into flames. Larson was able to climb out of the car and he was obviously out for the day. This was his 3rd DNF in a row and the race was red flagged as track personnel tried to clean up the debris.
When the race restarted, it was smooth sailing for Martin Truex Jr… until the last 13 laps when Kevin Harvick, who had been running P3, cleared the 2nd place of Denny Hamlin and set his sights on Truex. Within one lap, Harvick was to Truex’s bumper. Truex came up on lapped traffic and became loose. This allowed Harvick to shoot to the outside, get around both cars and pull away to win by 1.5 seconds.
This win locks Kevin Harvick into the final 4 drivers that are racing for a championship in two weeks. With a second-place finish, Martin Truex Jr also secures himself a spot in the final four.
There’s only one race left to determine the final transfer spot, and that takes place next week at Phoenix. Get your tickets HERE