Kevin Harvick Holds Off Aric Almirola for a Win at Texas

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returned to Texas Motor Speedway, the middle point in the round of eight. After a dramatic race at Martinsville last week, many drivers were looking to improve their position and set themselves up for a chance at the championship in Homestead-Miami.

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Chase Elliott Faces Must-Win Scenario after Early Crash in Texas

FORT WORTH, TEXAS – NOVEMBER 03: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, pits following an on-track incident during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 03, 2019 in Fort Worth, Texas. Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

FORT WORTH, Tex. – After another disaster on the race track, Chase Elliott has a crystal clear vision of his only path to a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship.

On lap nine of Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, Elliott’s No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet broke loose as he was running a higher lane in turns one and two. The car slammed into the outside wall, severely damaging the rear of the Camaro.

Elliott’s crew made repairs, beating the time limit under NASCAR’s damaged vehicle policy by roughly ten seconds. Elliott completed 312-of-334 laps and finished 32nd, a result that left him 78 points below the current cut line for the Championship 4 Round of the Playoffs.

In other words, Elliott must win next Sunday at ISM Raceway at Phoenix if he wants to race for the series title at Homestead-Miami Speedway. There is no other option.

“I made a mistake, got loose and crashed,” Elliott said. “I really hate that happened. Obviously, it’s not good and not what you’re looking for. It’s just my mistake and there’s really no excuse for it. It’s just all eyes on Phoenix.

“Obviously, today was very self-inflicted. I made a mistake that there’s really no excuse for, and that’s what you get. 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 on to Phoenix and try to get a win out there.”

Ryan Blaney Fights Ill-Handling Car, Faces Uphill Battle at Phoenix

FORT WORTH, TEXAS – NOVEMBER 03: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Wabash National Ford, races William Byron, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 03, 2019 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

Ryan Blaney manhandled his No. 12 Team Penske Ford to an eighth-place finish in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, but he finished the night 23 points behind fourth-place finisher Joey Logano—who also is fourth in the standings—for the final two spots in the Championship 4.

“It was a long night,” Blaney acknowledged. “We struggled really bad all night with track position, and then I felt like, even when we got a little bit of it, we still weren’t very good.

“We tried a lot of things tonight, and they didn’t really work. Unfortunately, we didn’t really get many stage points and the 4 (Kevin Harvick) winning didn’t help our cause, but we have to run better than that anyway.”

Nor did it help Blaney’s cause that Ryan Newman, a driver notoriously difficult to pass, held him up during a green-flag run and blocked Blaney’s run off turn two.

“Ryan is Ryan and he is going to race hard,” Blaney said. “I was mad that I had a massive run up top and he just turned right and it made me jump out of the gas and get tight and hit the fence.

“That’s what I was mad about. I was fine with the racing before that, but when someone has a big run like that it’s like, ‘C’mon.’”

That incident likely didn’t change Blaney’s situation heading for ISM Raceway at Phoenix.

“Gotta win,” Blaney said. “Hopefully, we go do that.”