FORT WORTH — Kevin Harvick started 29 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at Texas Motor Speedway and had gone winless, something that track president Eddie Gossage regularly brought up to him in one way or another over the years.
“It's an ongoing joke,” Harvick said. “You pull in the motorhome lot. You see the bag sitting outside the door, handwritten note, surely there's some wisecrack in there that refers to not being in victory lane.”
But Gossage was there on victory lane Sunday to greet Harvick, who passed Martin Truex Jr. with 10 laps to go in the AAA Texas 500 to claim not only his first win on the 1½-mile oval, but also a slot among the final four drivers who will compete for the title at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 19. “It's good timing,” Harvick said.
Truex, the series points leader who finished second, also locked up a slot in the final four after accumulating a huge points lead throughout the playoffs. Kyle Busch, who won last weekend in Martinsville, will join them. That leaves one slot open come next weekend’s race in Phoenix.
That victory at Texas certainly bodes well for Harvick to claim is second career Cup title at Homestead, a track --- while different from Texas in many respects – is also 1½ miles. Harvick won at Homestead in 2014, the same year he won his title.
“For us, Homestead has been great,” Harvick said. “We've won some races there. We've been ultra-competitive there. It's a very unique racetrack that is nothing like this one, that is nothing like any racetrack we go to, with the shape of the corners, the multiple variable banking. The two ends of the racetrack are very different.”
Harvick started the race third on the grid, won the first stage and finished second to Truex in the second, an indicator that his Stewart-Haas Racing Ford was more than capable on a day where temperatures were around 90 degrees. Harvick worked past Truex in the closing laps as his Toyota got loose exiting the corner and held on to win by 1.58 seconds. “Once he got in front of us, he was just gone,” Truex said. “Nothing I could do. Just one of those deals where he was quicker. Got me in a bad spot, took advantage, and he was gone.”