Chase Elliott’s string of bad luck the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series continued on Sunday, Nov. 3 in the AAA Texas 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway when his No. 9 NAPA Chevy broke loose on the high side of turns one and two, making hard contact with the wall on lap nine of 334.
The resulting damage forced Elliott into the garage and his team barely beat the repair clock to get back on the track. Re-entering the race in the last position, six laps behind the field, Elliott went on to finish 32 of 40 as the last car scored running.
Already well behind the cut after a broken axle derailed his run in Martinsville a week ago, Elliott now sits 78 points below the line and must win the Round of 8 finale in Phoenix on Nov. 10 to advance to the Championship Four.
“Obviously, today was very self-inflicted. I made a mistake that there’s really no excuse for and that’s what you get,” Elliott said. “You make mistakes, you put yourself in a bad position and that was all on me today. I hate that it happened, but it did, and we’ll just go onto Phoenix and try to get a win out there.”
Pole-winner Kevin Harvick overcame his own early race mistake, a pit row penalty for a loose tire that forced him to start from the rear on lap 186, to take home the checkered flag and secure his chance for the Cup Series trophy.
Harvick passed teammate Aric Almirola on lap 255 to regain the lead and went on to win the race by a comfortable 1.594 seconds. Almirola held off a hard-charging Daniel Suarez for a second-place finish as Stewart-Hass racing swept the top three spots. Joey Logano and Alex Bowman rounded out the top-5.
For Harvick it was his third straight Cup Series playoff victory at the 1.5-mile Texas track, the fourth win of 2019 and his 49th career victory moving him into a tie with SHR co-owner Tony Stewart for 14th all-time.
“Texas has always been so great to us, and what a racetrack the last few years,” said Harvick. “It’s just been a lot of work put into this race. We knew this was a good racetrack for us. Felt like it fit the styles of our cars, and, man, did it.”
Logano was the only other playoff driver to finish in the top five and he maintained his fourth-place spot in the standings at 20 points above the bubble. Kyle Busch, who finished seventh, sits just two points above him in the third spot. Martin Truex Jr. secured his spot in the Championship Four with his win at Martinsville last week.
On the other side of the line, Denny Hamlin did himself no favors with his twenty-eighth-place finish and he sits 20 points below the cut. Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson are tied at 23 under, followed by Elliott.
Hamlin, Blaney and Larson all have the chance to race their way into the final round with solid performances at ISM Raceway in Phoenix on Nov. 10, but that feat has only been done once before when Harvick made-up a six-point deficit in 2014 to secure the final spot.