This article is part of our NASCAR Barometer series.
Kevin Harvick hit all the right notes in Texas, first qualifying on pole and then leading 119 laps to tally his fourth win of the season and arguably the most important yet. His Texas win earns him a spot among the final four championship contenders in two weeks, and wrests momentum from the Joe Gibbs Racing team with one of Harvick's best tracks next up in ISM Raceway. Sunday's race was a banner day for Stewart-Haas Racing with all four drivers leading laps and a sweep of the top three finishing positions. The only question remaining is if they can do it again in Miami just two weeks from now.
This week presents the final race of the final playoff elimination rounds. Two of the four championship spots remain to be filled, with Martin Truex Jr. the other winner to have secured his spot in the finale. Harvick has been the best at Phoenix in the past, but Kyle Busch is starting to stake a claim of his own at the circuit. Busch has yet to secure a spot in the final four but has won each of the last two races at the track. He sits third in the playoff standings with just 22 points separating him from Denny Hamlin in fifth. Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott, the remaining championship contenders, are facing must-win situations to make it to Miami with a shot at the title.