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AAA TEXAS 500 NOTEBOOK

  • Harvick Ready To Find His Way To Victory Lane 

Defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick is looking to snap a 25-race winless streak at Texas Motor Speedway in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500. Texas remains the only track of the three races remaining in the season (Phoenix and Homestead-Miami are the others) that Harvick has not conquered. 

Harvick has five XFINITY Series wins – second-most among drivers – and one truck series victory at Texas Motor Speedway, but a Sprint Cup one has remained elusive. During his most recent trip to the Lone Star State, he nearly ended the drought as he finished runner-up in the Duck Commander 500 and led a personal-best 96 laps after leading just eight in his previous 24 starts. Securing a spot in the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a victory at Texas Motor Speedway remains the highest priority entering this weekend. 

“It ranks pretty high right now, just for the fact that I’ve never been to Victory Lane on the Cup side,” Harvick said. “I’ve won a ton of races there in the XFINITY and truck series as a driver and an owner. 

“I just don’t think we’ve ever had a whole day come together for whatever reason at Texas (in the Sprint Cup Series). We’ve had good runs there in the past but just haven’t got to Victory Lane… So that’s kind of the running joke with (track president) Eddie Gossage – ‘Is Victory Lane is open on Sunday, too?’ We just have to figure out how to get in there.” 

Despite being winless at Texas Motor Speedway, Harvick does rank fourth with a career finishing average of 12.68 on the strength of 13 top-10 finishes in his 25 starts. He also has finished runner-up in his last two starts at Texas – last year’s AAA Texas 500 and April’s Duck Commander 500 – and has finished in the top 10 in five of his last seven visits. 

  • Pressure Is On 

Texas Motor Speedway marks the second of three races in the Eliminator 8 Round of the Chase, which whittles the field of championship contenders to four. Following last weekend’s race at Martinsville, three drivers experienced issues that will require a strong performance in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 for them to remain a contender for the championship. 

The Team Penske duo of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano, along with Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kurt Busch are sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively, in the championship standings. Both Logano and Busch have earned victories at Texas Motor Speedway while Keselowski is looking for his first Sprint Cup win at the venue. 

For Logano, who finished 37th in last Sunday’s race after being wrecked by Matt Kenseth, all his problems can be forgotten with a victory this weekend. A win could prove pivotal in energizing his championship aspirations.  He has been strong of late at Texas, with top-five finishes in four of his last five starts, including a win in last year’s Duck Commander 500. 

“If you can get yourself through Texas and set yourself up there for Homestead and be able to win that race, is huge,” Logano said. “The advantage of being able to focus on one race and not focusing on the other two before that and really focusing on Homestead, that’s what makes Texas so important.” 

  • Can Texas Predict The Future? 

A victory at Texas Motor Speedway could serve as the litmus test to determining the driver to beat in the Championship Round of Chase at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Texas Motor Speedway is the final race on a 1.5-mile track before the season finale at Homestead. A victory at Texas by one of the eight championship contenders would vault them to the early favorite to win the championship because of the similarities between the two 1.5-mile tracks. 

“Do well at Texas and that means you will do well at Homestead,” Stewart-Haas Racing and championship contender Kurt Busch said. “If you want to win this title, you have to win at Homestead, you’ve got to win at Texas.” 

Busch, who won this event in 2009, won the pole, led 45 laps en route to a 14th-place finish in his most recent visit at April’s Duck Commander 500. 

  • Admissions Closed For RaceDay U 

Texas Motor Speedway’s fan-favorite RaceDay University with Coca-Cola officially has sold out for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500. The program is designed to provide fans – both novice and veteran – the opportunity to experience the sport with behind-the-scenes access and Q&A sessions with some of NASCAR’s biggest names. 

Drivers and personalities scheduled to visit with fans for RaceDay University are NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson, 2016 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Terry Labonte and NASCAR on NBC analyst and two-time Texas Motor Speedway race winner Jeff Burton. Renowned radio veteran Norm Hitzges of The Ticket will serve as the emcee of the event. 

Along with Q&A sessions, fans are treated to a hospitality area with food and Coca-Cola beverages, pre-race passes for the Loud and Proud Pre-Race Show Fueled by American Ethanol featuring Sammy Hagar and The Circle and driver introductions, and more. 

About the author

The Texas Motor Speedway Media Relations Department is located on the 6th floor of The Speedway Club outside of Turn 1 of the speedway. 

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