The Latest: Caution-free 2nd stage at Texas in Cup playoffs
FORT WORTH, Texas -- The Latest on the NASCAR Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (all times local):
A caution-free second stage at Texas with none of the playoff contenders for the NASCAR Cup title in the top three, after there were six yellow flags in the first 85-lap segment.
Aric Almirola, Erik Jones and Jimmie Johnson were running in the top three with 170 of 334 total laps completed.
Kyle Larson in fourth is the highest-running of the eight drivers still in contention for the NASCAR title, with Joey Logano fifth and polesitter Kevin Harvick sixth. Kyle Busch, in ninth, was the only other playoff contender to get points in the second stage.
The top four in season points through the second stage had Martin Truex Jr., already locked into one of the final four spots at Homestead after his win at Martinsville last week, still first, followed by Busch, Logano and Harvick.
Denny Hamlin, who started the day second in points, was running 32nd and three laps off the leading pace after an incident in the first stage. That dropped him to sixth in points.
Johnson, a seven-time winner at Texas, led 40 laps during the second stage. He has gone a career-long 92 races since his last win in 2017, and he had led only 27 laps overall since he was in front for 60 laps at Texas in the spring race seven months ago.
Pole sitter and NASCAR Cup title contender Kevin Harvick has taken the caution-filled first stage at Texas, where two playoff contenders have already run into trouble.
Denny Hamlin, who entered the race second in points, got loose coming out the fourth turn on the 81st lap and then slid off the track and through the infield. He slammed hard across the grass and over asphalt.
That brought out the sixth caution of the race.
When racing resumed, there was only one lap before the end of the first stage.
Only three other playoff contenders behind Harvick got stage points. Kyle Larson was third, Kyle Busch fifth and Ryan Blaney ninth in the first 85-lap segment.
Chase Elliott, who entered eighth in points, got loose and slammed hard into the wall only nine laps into the race. After an extended time on pit road for repairs, he got back on the track but was 15 laps behind the leaders and in 38th place at the end of the first stage.
The only drivers behind him were Brad Keselowski and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Keselowski got loose on lap 53 with Stenhouse behind him, and after hard contact both non-playoff contenders were done for the day.
"I was just real loose and trying to make something happen," Keselowski said. "My butt told me I would wreck if I do that. I was getting passed and swung for the fence and I hit it."
There is a father-son outing at Texas.
John Hunter Nemechek made his first NASCAR Cup Series start Sunday, a race in which his father, Joe Nemecheck, is also driving.
The younger Nemechek is driving the No. 36 Ford for Front Row Motorsports. He will also be filling that seat for the final two races with Matt Tifft out for rest of the season after having a seizure before practice at Martinsville last week.
Joe Nemechek drives the No. 15 Chevrolet for Premium Motorsports.
It is the first time since 2005 that a father and son competed in the same Cup race. Bobby Hamilton and Bobby Hamilton Jr. started the October 2005 race at Atlanta.
Next week, both Nemecheks are scheduled to compete in all three NASCAR series races at Phoenix.
Chase Elliott has had another bad break in his NASCAR Cup playoff chase.
Elliott got loose going into the second turn only nine laps into Sunday's race at Texas, and the rear end of his No. 9 Chevrolet slammed hard into the outside wall. There was no contact with any other cars.
After mechanical issues in two earlier playoff races, Elliott got to Texas eighth among the playoff contenders.
Elliott was the runner-up at Kansas last month but finished 36th at Martinsville last week after a mechanical failure. There was also his last-place finish among 38 cars at Dover, where his engine gave out after only eight laps.
Kevin Harvick will start from the pole at Texas, where he will be trying to win the NASCAR Cup fall race for the third year in a row.
A victory Sunday would give Harvick one of the three remaining championship-contending spots in the season finale in two weeks.
Martin Truex Jr., who already is locked in for a title run on Nov. 17 at Homestead, starts 17th at Texas. He was the lowest qualifier of the eight playoff contenders.
Denny Hamlin, who won the spring race at Texas seven months ago, is starting on the second row.
The other five playoff contenders are all bunched together outside the top 10. Joey Logano, Kyle Bush, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney start in the 11th through 15th spots in the 40-car field.
Matt Tifft says he is focused on trying to determine what caused a seizure at the racetrack that ended his rookie NASCAR Cup season.
Tifft was at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, eight days after he fell ill at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia. He says he was glad to be back at the track and wanted to be there after a stressful week.
Standing just behind the Front Row Motorsports hauler, Tifft pointed out that he was only about five feet from where he had his seizure inside last week.
While Tifft wants to be back in the No. 36 car as soon as possible, he said nothing else matters until finding out what caused the seizure.
The 23-year-old Tifft had a brain tumor removed in 2016 but returned to race the next year. Brain scans this week showed no issues where the tumor had been.
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