Kevin Harvick had the fastest auto all afternoon but had to sweat out overtime to earn the victory at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday.
Following the break between Stages 1 and 2, Harvick was again first off pit road and remained in the lead when Stage 2 went green on Lap 93.
The 2014 champion joins Joey Logano of Team Penske - who won last weekend's Round of 8 race at Martinsville Speedway - in securing a berth in the season-ending, championship-deciding race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in two weeks. Kevin Harvick handed over the checkered flag to young fan he called on to the track to pose for a selfies, one with the triumphant driver and vehicle that will have a shot at another NASCAR Cup championship.
It did happen for Harvick, who won't change plans for next weekend's race in Phoenix despite already being locked into the championship after his 45th career win. The race will determine the other two drivers in the championship four. Harvick, who started third, won the first stage and then followed it up with a win in the second stage. Choosing to take the higher lane, he pulled away from Blaney and was never seriously challenged for first place.
To get the victory, Harvick had to overcome a series of late-race restarts, the final one of which came in OT.
After the first of the late restarts, Harvick was on the inside and was able to keep Blaney from clearing him on the backstretch.
Harvick was on the inside again for the next restart, but Blaney was able to get by him for the lead. Harvick was already starting to rebuild his lead - it had been almost 4 seconds before the caution - when another yellow flag came out. "That was really the only shot we had to beat him, to be honest with you. When Homestead comes around if I am not in, he will know it".
Truex had to start at the rear of the field because of an engine change. "To start exactly where we were I think is a decent day". "Obviously Blaney had a good restart and we're not taking the bottom anymore".
Johnson's teammate with Hendrick Motorsports, William Byron in the No. 24, was sent to the back of the field after three failed inspections. "The only difference is there's one less spot available".
There were several other cars also pushed to the rear for other issues, including the No. 48 of Jimmie Johnson after failing prerace inspection twice.
Neither Truex nor Kyle Busch had a great race on Sunday, though they salvaged reasonable results to stay well above the playoff cut line. Today he has earned his way in and he is going to attempt to be triumphant in another race and see what can be done on the home ground. Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus are making their 600th start together.
UP NEXT: The last race in the third round of the playoffs, Sunday at Phoenix.