AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Kevin Harvick wasted zero time in leveling the primary volley in NASCAR’s championship race.

In Harvick’s opinion, he is enjoying with home cash when he races Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski subsequent Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the title. It’s Truex, Harvick believes, who faces all of the stress.

“Martin has won a lot of races this year,” Harvick mentioned. “Those guys have dominated the 12 months, and I really feel like if they do not win at this level, they might in all probability really feel like they’ve had a letdown.

“It’s a variety of enjoyable coming from behind and enjoying catch up and sort of enjoying that underdog position is far simpler than being anticipated to go down there and win. We count on to win.”

When instructed that Harvick has picked Truex as the favourite, Truex minimize off the query earlier than ready to listen to what Harvick even mentioned.

“That seems like Harvick,” joked Truex.

But Truex will not be rattled. He’s gained seven races this 12 months, been probably the most dominant driver all season and has three wins in these playoffs. So if Harvick is making an attempt to lean on Truex, he is received the incorrect man.

“It does not work on me,” Truex said. “If I am the favourite, good, I like that. I feel it is a greater place to be in. I used to be the underdog earlier than and I completed fourth, so yeah, carry it on.”

The subject was finalized Sunday when Keselowski earned the ultimate spot within the championship on factors. He completed 16th at Phoenix Raceway and needed to sweat it out as a result of he was by no means in competition for the victory. Had considered one of 4 different drivers gained the race, Keselowski would have been out.

And, had Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin not been feuding, Hamlin might need claimed the ultimate spot over Keselowski on factors.

“Just really feel glad to make it by way of, you recognize, and have a shot subsequent week,” Keselowski said. “You by no means understand how these items are going to play out. Certainly can be a stretch by any means by how we ran right now to say we are the favourite, however we’re glad to be there, and also you by no means understand how these races are going to shake out.”

Matt Kenseth handed Elliott with 10 laps remaining to win Phoenix and deny Elliott the ultimate berth in subsequent week’s championship race. Had Elliott held on for the win, he would have certified for the championship finale.

Elliott completed second for the seventh time in his profession.

The Kenseth win salvaged the day for Gibbs, which had an opportunity to get Hamlin into the championship.

Hamlin and Elliott have been racing for place and Elliott gave Hamlin a number of faucets as he tried to get previous him for place, and when he lastly was capable of pull alongside Hamlin, the 2 vehicles made contact. Hamlin grazed the wall and instantly started dropping positions on the monitor.

Just a couple of laps later, his tire blew, Hamlin hit the wall and his race was over. Elliott admitted he raced Hamlin aggressively, similar as Hamlin did when he wrecked Elliott from the lead at Martinsville.

“A sensible man as soon as instructed me that he’ll race guys how they race him with a smile on his face, so that is what I did right now,” Elliott said. “I raced him how he raced me, and that is the way in which I noticed it. That’s about all I’ve to say.”

Hamlin was racing to win, however might have overwhelmed Keselowski into the finale on factors had he not wrecked. He has maintained that he did not imply to wreck Elliott at Martinsville, and the payback Sunday was redemption.

“It simply proves to the individuals who thought I used to be a foul man that he would do the very same factor underneath the identical circumstances,” Hamlin said. “I received into him and he selected to retaliate.”

Jimmie Johnson additionally wrecked early within the race , ending his bid to make the championship. The elimination of the seven-time champion means NASCAR is not going to have a repeat winner.

Now, three former collection champions and Truex, who has raced for the title on this format earlier than, will compete for the title. The subject is made up of two Toyota drivers and two Ford drivers, as Chevrolet was knocked out of title competition when Elliott and Larson did not advance.

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