The AAA Texas 500 had six cautions in the first stage and took nearly four hours to complete Sunday, but after all that, the driver who started at the front of the pack finished there, too.
Kevin Harvick won from the pole at Texas Motor Speedway to secure a spot in the Championship 4. He fell back in the middle of the race before dominating late and closing out a comfortable win.
Harvick was leading after a disastrous first stage, which featured those six cautions in the first 81 laps, the most yellow flags of any Stage 1 this season. Many of the wrecks looked the same:Â A driver would go high around a turn â running onto the traction compound put on the pavement â and then get loose and spin into the wall.
That happened first to Chase Elliott in the first 10 laps. His eventual 32nd-place finish means he will need to win next week’s race at Phoenix to extend his playoff run. The final caution of the first stage was for Denny Hamlin, who avoided hitting the wall but ended up in the infield instead. He finished 28th and is now 20 points below the cut line set by Joey Logano.
Logano was the only playoff driver other than Harvick to finish in the top five. Martin Truex Jr. ended the night in sixth, Kyle Busch in seventh and Ryan Blaney in eighth. Kyle Larson finished 12th.
Busch and Logano are in position to join Truex and Harvick in the Championship 4 entering the final race of the Round of 8. They are third and fourth in the standings, respectively, going into Phoenix.Â .
Sporting News tracked live updates and highlights from the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Follow along below (all times Eastern):
|Finish||Driver||Team (Car No.)||Laps Led|
|1||Kevin Harvick||Stewart-Haas Racing (4)||119|
|2||Aric Almirola||Stewart-Haas Racing (10)||62|
|3||Daniel Suarez||Stewart-Haas Racing (41)||25|
|4||Joey Logano||Penske Racing (22)||5|
|5||Alex Bowman||Hendrick Motorsports (88)||11|
|6||Â Martin Truex Jr.||Â Joe Gibbs Racing (19)||0|
|7||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing (18)||18|
|8||Ryan Blaney||Penske Racing (12)||0|
|9||Kurt Busch||Chip Ganassi Racing (1)||1|
|10||Erik Jones||Joe Gibbs Racing (20)||9|
|11||Clint Bowyer||Stewart-Haas Racing (14)||36|
|12||Kyle Larson||Chip Ganassi Raching (42)||0|
|13||Austin Dillon||Richard Childress Racing (3)||0|
|14||Matt DiBenedetto||Leavine Family Racing (95)||0|
|15||Ryan Newman||Hendrick Motorsports (48)||0|
|16||Daniel Hemric||Richard Childress Racing (8)||0|
|17||William Byron||Hendrick Motorsports (24)||8|
|18||Ty Dillon||Germain Racing (13)||0|
|19||Chris Buescher||JTG Daughtery Racing (47)||0|
|20||Paul Menard||Wood Brothers Racing (21)||0|
Caution flags: 11
Lead changes: 25
Lap leaders: Kevin Harvick (119), Aric Almirola (62), Jimmie Johnson (40), Clint Bowyer (36), Daniel Suarez (25), Kyle Busch (18), Alex Bowman (11), Erik Jones (9), William Byron (8), Joey Logano (5), Kurt Busch (1)
7:04 p.m.: CHECKERED. Harvick wins with plenty of room to spare. Logano finishes in fourth, Truex in sixth, Kyle Busch in seventh and Blaney in eighth.
7Â p.m.: Harvick’s advantage is back up above four seconds as we near 10 laps to go.
6:55 p.m.: A pit stop cuts Harvick’s lead to about two seconds with about 20 laps left.
6:48 p.m.: Harvick’s lead is up to four seconds.
6:33 p.m.: Here we go.
The guys who matter the most in the 2019 championship are starting to matter the most in this race. Playoff drivers now in four of the top nine spots (first, third, fifth, sixth, ninth). #nascar
â Nate Ryan (@nateryan) November 3, 2019
6:26 p.m.: Harvick and Almirola are trading the lead.
6:25 p.m.: Harvick passes Suarez for second place and is quickly on the bumper of Almirola.
6:20 p.m.: Larson has some thoughts.
âAt some point maybe theyâll start doing something about guys bringing the caution out on purpose…”
Not happy thoughts on Kyle Larson’s radio after Bubba Wallace brought out the caution, putting the No. 42 one lap down. #NASCARPlayoffs
â NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) November 3, 2019
6:16 p.m.: CAUTION . Bubba Wallace has a flat and loses control.
6:10 p.m.: Ryan Blaney very nearly loses it. He pits shortly after.
5:56 p.m.: It takes a few laps after the restart, but Almirola eventually passes Suarez for the lead.
5:45 p.m.: CAUTION. On turn 2 after the restart, Garrett Smithley and David Ragan crash.
5:38 p.m.: CAUTION. After a clean second stage, the final stage goes under yellow quickly. Johnson loses it around a corner and hits the wall.
5:34 p.m.: William Byron and Daniel Suarez are battling for the lead after the restart.
5:28 p.m.: CAUTION. Almirola needs four tires before the final stage, so he’ll lose some spots. Logano and Larson both do the same.
5:23 p.m.: Almirola wins Stage 2. The playoff drivers who get points: Larson in 4th, Logano in 5th, Harvick in 6th, Kyle Busch in 9th.
5:21 p.m.: Busch falls back as the drivers who pitted catch up to him. Not a ton of playoff drivers among the leaders at the end of Stage 2.
5:16 p.m.: Kyle Busch has the lead with about 15 laps left in Stage 2, which is yet to go under caution.
5:07 p.m.: Aric Almirola takes over the lead from Johnson, who ents the pit.
5:03 p.m.: Johnson has led the past 31 (uninterrupted, mercifully) laps.
4:47 p.m.: Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman are battling for the lead.
4:37 p.m.: CAUTION. Ryan Blaney only takes two tires on the post-stage stoppage and leaps to the lead, a spot ahead of Harvick.
4:30 p.m.: Harvick clears Bowyer for the lead in turn three of the final lap of Stage 1.
4:24 p.m.: CAUTION. Hamlin loses control and manages to avoid the wall but ends up in the infield instead. This has become a bit ridiculous: six cautions in the first stage.
4:18 p.m.: CAUTION. Look, it’s just not Corey LaJoie’s day.
4:11 p.m.: Bowyer leads off the restart, ahead of Harvick and Truex Jr. battling for second.
4Â p.m.: Here are Matt Tifft’s thoughts on the traction.
Pj1 so finicky. Lots of grip typically second half of race. Feels like ice first part. I like it when itâs applicable and warm, but until then itâs sketchy https://t.co/0FIg5RddjL
â Matt Tifft (@matt_tifft) November 3, 2019
Same as itâs been last couple years. Give it a bit of time. Once lappers and others move around it will get better. Not sure on tire compound, but that may be more of a heat/grip factor than pj1 https://t.co/8FBiM3SIdI
â Matt Tifft (@matt_tifft) November 3, 2019
3:57 p.m.: CAUTION. That’s four in 54 laps. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Brad Keselowski both go into the wall on the same turn in quick succession. It is very risky to be high on the track around turns.
3:55 p.m.: Clint Bowyer and Jones are battling for the lead off the restart. Harvick is running in third.
3:48 p.m.: CAUTION. Corey LaJoie suffers the same fate as Elliott, getting too high on the track and then ending up way, way too high on the track. His tangle with the wall brings the third caution in the first 45 laps.
3:44 p.m.: Harvick has the best car â and the lead â early.
3:31 p.m.: Harvick and Erik Jones will battle for the lead again off the restart.
3:30 p.m.: CAUTION. Just after the restart, a turn marker falls from the catchfence onto the track. The debris brings out the second yellow in the first 20 laps.
3:24 p.m.: CAUTION. Chase Elliott loses grip around a turn, spins into the wall and takes some severe damage about 10 laps in. He will likely face a must-win situation next week if he wants to keep his playoff run alive.
3:20 p.m.: Green flag.