Kevin Harvick cruised to a win in the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth on Sunday.
With the victory, Harvick joins Martin Truex Jr. in qualifying for the championship four of the 2019 NASCAR playoffs. He held off Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Aric Almirola, who made a late charge down the final stretch. Daniel Suarez, Joey Logano and Alex Bowman round out the top five.
It's the third straight year in which Harvick earned a trip to Victory Lane in the fall race at Texas Motor Speedway. He's also now tied with Tony Stewart, who is a part owner in SHR, for 14th on the NASCAR all-time wins list (49).
AAA Texas 500 Leaderboard
1. Kevin Harvick
2. Aric Almirola
3. Daniel Suarez
4. Joey Logano
5. Alex Bowman
6. Martin Truex Jr.
7. Kyle Busch
8. Ryan Blaney
9. Kurt Busch
10. Erik Jones
As the last car on the lead lap, Ryan Newman had the opportunity to play spoiler. Newman didn't make it easy for Harvick to pass him, which allowed Almirola to close the gap on first place.
Harvick worked his way around with four laps left, which allowed him a clear path to the finish line.
With Truex and Harvick through, two spots remain in the championship four at Ford EcoBoost 400 on Nov. 17 in Homestead, Florida.
Chase Elliott entered Sunday in desperate need of a strong result to keep his championship hopes alive. Car trouble led to a 36th-place finish in the First Data 500 last week, which left Elliott 30 points behind Logano for fourth.
Luck wasn't on Elliott side in Fort Worth either. The Chevrolet driver got caught too high up the track coming around Turn 2 and hit the wall on the ninth lap.
The No. 9 car eventually returned from the garage but had no chance of climbing up the leaderboard. Elliott completed 312 of the 334 laps and finished 32nd. The Hendrick Motorsports driver facing a must-win situation in the Bluegreen Vacations 500 next week at ISM Raceway in Avondale, Arizona, in order to qualify for the championship four.
Denny Hamlin suffered what could prove to be a costly mistake, too, in the first stage. The Toyota driver spun out into the infield and sustained damage to the front of his car.
The stage concluded after the 85th lap, which allowed Hamlin's team much-needed time to address the necessary repairs.
Still, he slipped down the playoff standings due to his 28th-place showing. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver went from 24 points up in second place to 20 points back in fifth.
Hamlin got into a fight with Logano following the Martinsville race. Logano had taken exception to when Hamlin forced him up into the wall during the race, which caused the No. 22 car to suffer a cut tire. Dave Nichols Jr., a member of Logano's crew, was suspended for Sunday's race after he grabbed Hamlin's collar and pulled him to the ground.
Perhaps because Hamlin posed little threat to the leaders for the majority of the AAA Texas 500, he and Logano didn't resume lingering hostilities and stayed out of one another's way.
Hamlin's rapid reversal of fortune is evidence how quickly can change in the NASCAR playoffs. Logano, the reigning series champion, and Kyle Busch are safe for now, but they still have work to do in Arizona to ensure they stay in the title hunt.