Kevin Harvick cruises to Stage 1 win at Texas
Kevin Harvick, who won this race one year ago, dominated on his way to the Stage 1 victory at Texas Motor Speedway.
Harvick easily held off Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, Kurt Busch, by more than three seconds to win the stage. Erik Jones was third, Ryan Blaney fourth and Martin Truex Jr. completed the top-five.
Harvick led 53 of the 85 laps in the stage.
Also collecting stage points were Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Paul Menard, Chase Elliott and Aric Almirola.
Blaney, the pole-winner, took early command of the race but Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer made contact on the first lap, which forced both to make a trip to pit road over the next several laps.
Hamlin was forced to make a second trip down pit road on Lap 15. After the stops, Bowyer had fallen two laps down and Hamlin was three laps down.
After 20 laps, Blaney maintained a small advantage over Harvick with Keselowski running in third.
On Lap 31 of 85, a competition caution was displayed by NASCAR to allow teams to check their tires after heavy rainfall on Saturday night.
All of the lead-lap cars elected to pit with Harvick the first off pit road. He took over the lead on the restart on Lap 37. He was followed by Kurt Busch and Jones.
Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray and Michael McDowell were penalized for speeding on pit road and all had to restart from the rear of the field.
With 40 laps remaining in the first stage, Harvick had moved out to a more than 2-second lead over Kurt Busch with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. running in third.
Harvick’s lead ballooned to over 3.2 seconds with 30 laps left in the first stage as Logano began challenging Kurt Busch for the runner-up spot.
Kurt Busch had cut the margin to under 3 seconds with 20 laps to go in the first stage as Blaney moved back to third.
With five laps left in the stage, Blaney nearly lost it off Turn 2 but collected himself and continued on.
Seven drivers had to start the race from the rear of the field.
Daniel Suarez, Chris Buescher and Truex had to go to the back for engine changes, Matt DiBenedetto dropped back for a transmission change and Jimmie Johnson had to move to the rear after failing pre-race inspection twice.
William Byron went to the back after his No. 24 Chevrolet failed pre-race inspection three times. Byron’s car chief, Todd Devnich, was also ejected from the track for the remainder of the weekend because of the multiple inspection failures.
Almirola also had to drop to the rear of the field at the start for unapproved body modifications after inspection.
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Kevin Harvick dominates Stage 2 at Texas
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