Kevin Harvick won the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway Sunday, after passing Martin Truex Jr. for the lead with 10 to go. The race looked like it was all Truex’s, but Harvick got the victory and the free pass to race for the title at Homestead-Miami Speedway in a couple of weeks.
The win was Harvick’s first Cup Series win in 30 starts at Texas, and it sure did come at a good time for his title hopes under NASCAR’s new format. Harvick’s best finish in Texas before than Sunday was second, on two different occasions.
Harvick’s son joined him in victory lane, which was extra adorable:
Truex, another playoff driver, might not have won the race, but he clinched a spot on points to compete for the title at the season finale in Miami. That leaves only one spot in the “championship four,” with one race to go before NASCAR heads to Homestead.
The way NASCAR’s knockout system works for the now-named “playoffs,” four of the eight remaining drivers in the title hunt will be eliminated after the Phoenix race next weekend—the second-to-last race of the season. Of the four remaining drivers at Homestead, the one who finishes highest in that race alone will win the Cup Series title.
Five drivers who are still in the running for the title before next weekend’s elimination race—Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott and Jimmie Johnson—will compete for that final championship-four spot in Phoenix.
At a mile in length, Phoenix is classified as a “short” track, and it’ll hopefully be full of short tempers as well.