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Aric Almirola, Kevin Harvick win stages in Texas playoff race

Aric Almirola completed a Stewart-Haas Racing sweep of both stages in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 8 race at Texas Motor Speedway.

RELATED: Stage 2 results

Almirola took over the lead with six laps to go after Kyle Busch peeled off to hit pit road as the last car to make a stop in the pit cycle as varied fuel-only and two-tire strategies unfolded in the second stint of the 334-lap race at the 1.5-mile Fort Worth track.

The stage win is Almirola’s second of the season. The No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing driver was eliminated after the initial Playoffs Round of 16.

Erik Jones finished second, followed by Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Larson and Stage 1 winner Kevin Harvick to complete the top five spots.

Johnson led a stage-high 40 of the 85 circuits, taking the lead away from Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman at the stage restart.

After setting a record for the number of cautions in Stage 1, the second stage was less chaotic by going caution-free throughout.

Place Driver Team Pts
1 Aric Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing 10
2 Erik Jones Joe Gibbs Racing 9
3 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports 8
4 Kyle Larson (P) Chip Ganassi Racing 7
5 Kevin Harvick (P) Stewart-Haas Racing 6
6 Joey Logano Team Penske 5
7 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports 4
8 Daniel Suarez Stewart-Haas Racing 3
9 Kyle Busch (P) Joe Gibbs Racing 2
10 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports 1


Kevin Harvick edged out Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Clint Bowyer to take the Stage 1 victory in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Round of 8 playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway.

With just five laps to go in the stage, playoff driver Denny Hamlin spun off Turn 4 and received significant damage to the front splitter after the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota spun through the infield grass.

RELATED: Stage 1 results

Hamlin’s incident set up a one-lap sprint to the green-and-white-checkered flag where Harvick was able to overtake Bowyer, serving as Harvick’s sixth stage win of the 2019 season.

Larson collected eight valuable stage points with a third-place result, followed by Alex Bowman and Kyle Busch to round out the top five.

Disaster struck for playoff driver Chase Elliott on Lap 9 when the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet slipped out of the groove in Turns 1 and 2, causing Elliott to slide up the track, backing hard into the outside retaining wall. The team was able to make repairs after significant damage to the rear and right side of the car on pit road under the allotted six minutes of the Damaged Vehicle Policy.

Elliott came into Sunday’s race 44 points below the cutline. Elliott currently runs 37th after the conclusion of Stage 1.

Another big crash left Brad Keselowski and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. with destroyed race cars on Lap 54. Keselowski got loose on the outside lane coming out of Turn 4, slamming into the outside wall. Stenhouse also lost control, making hard contact with the outside wall and the rear of the No. 2 Ford.

In total, the stage saw six cautions, setting a record for the number of yellow flags in one stage.

Place Driver Team Pts
1 Kevin Harvick (P) Stewart-Haas Racing 10
2 Clint Bowyer Stewart-Haas Racing 9
3 Kyle Larson (P) Chip Ganassi Racing 8
4 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports 7
5 Kyle Busch (P) Joe Gibbs Racing 6
6 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing 5
7 Kurt Busch Chip Ganassi Racing 4
8 Ryan Preece JTG Daugherty Racing 3
9 Ryan Blaney Team Penske 2
10 Daniel Hemric Richard Childress Racing 1