Can Harvick, Keselowski rebound in the Chase at Texas?

Fort Worth, TX ( – Sunday’s 500-mile event at Texas Motor
Speedway is the second of three races in the Eliminator Round of the Chase for
the Sprint Cup championship.

It’s also a critical race for both Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski in their
hopes of advancing into the final four for the Nov. 16 season-ending and
championship event at Homestead.

Keselowski and Harvick are currently ranked seven and eighth, respectively, in
the eight-driver Chase field for the Eliminator Round. The third round in the
playoffs began last Sunday at Martinsville, the only short track on the Chase

While running in the top-10 just before the halfway point in the Martinsville
race, Matt Kenseth, who is also a title contender, bumped into Harvick, as
both drivers spun out. Harvick made contact with the wall and suffered damage
to the front end of his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. He finished 33rd
after spending more than 40 laps in the garage for repairs.

Keselowski triggered a five-crash following a restart late in the race when he
experienced a transmission issue and slowed on the track. Casey Mears plowed
into the back of him. Keselowski later returned and ended up finishing 31st.

Harvick, in his first season with SHR after spending the past 13 years with
Richard Childress Racing, is scheduled to make his 500th career Sprint Cup
Series start this weekend at Texas. He has yet to win a Cup race at this 1.5-
mile track.

When the series last ran here in April, Harvick suffered engine failure after
completing just 28 laps and wound up placing 42nd. He had qualified third for
the race, which was delayed one day due to rain.

“We had a really, really fast car there in the spring but had a crazy, freak
motor problem,” Harvick said. “Our mile-and-a-half stuff has really been our
bread and butter this year, so I’m looking forward to getting back there and
trying to get to victory lane. That would really be the best spot to end up.”

Keselowski’s best finish in 12 Sprint Cup races at Texas is second, which
happened in November 2012, en route to his series championship. Earlier this
year, he started second and led a total of 85 laps but ended up finishing
15th here.

For the second time in this Chase, Keselowski is on the verge of being
eliminated from the Chase. During the Contender Round, the driver of the No. 2
Ford for Team Penske finished 36th at Kansas and then 16th at Charlotte before
winning the Talladega race, which automatically advanced him into the
Eliminator Round.

“This is a championship-caliber effort at Team Penske,” Keselowski said. “This
is who we are, and this is what we do. I am going to make the most of this
opportunity to win races and to win this championship. We’ve done that with
race wins, and we’re doing what we have to earn the championship, but our
opportunity and our capabilities as a group are so much higher than that. I
don’t want to miss out on it, so it’s very, very important to me personally to
live up to this opportunity that I’m so fortunate to have right now with this
team and this organization.”

Keselowski won the Chase-opener on Sept. 14 at Chicagoland to move on to the
Contender Round. He leads the series with six victories this season.

Joey Logano, who is Keselowski’s teammate, has five wins in 2014, including a
victory in the spring race at Texas. Logano benefited from a four-tire change
during the final caution to pass Jeff Gordon for the lead on last lap at this
track. It was the first time he won a Sprint Cup race here.

“We need to do the same thing we did in the spring. That is the goal,” Logano
said. “Anytime you come back to a racetrack you were able to win at in the
spring race brings a little added confidence. We tested here a few weeks ago,
getting ready for this, knowing this would be an important race to get us to

Logano is third in Chase points following his fifth-place finish at

“We are lucky we had a good finish last week with a top five, but it doesn’t
set you up as well as you want to be knowing there are only three races,” he
said. “We have to be able to come out of here with at least a top-five finish
and hopefully get that win again.”

Gordon is the current points leader, while second-place Ryan Newman is three
points behind Gordon. Logano trails by four.

Kenseth is fourth in points (-5), followed by Denny Hamlin (-7) and Carl
Edwards (-20). Edwards finished 20th at Martinsville.

Forty-three teams are on the entry list for the AAA Texas 500.

Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup. Date: Sunday, Nov. 2. Race: AAA Texas 500. Site:
Texas Motor Speedway. Track: 1.5-mile oval. Start time: 3 p.m. ET. Laps: 334.
Miles: 501. 2013 Winner: Jimmie Johnson. Television: ESPN. Radio: Performance
Racing Network (PRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.