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On verge of making title round, Harvick’s team makes change to car

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500

FORT WORTH, TX - NOVEMBER 08: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet, leads Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Wurth Ford, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 8, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

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AVONDALE, Ariz. - As Kevin Harvick seeks to return to the championship round and defend his Sprint Cup title, he’ll do so with one key change to his car.

It will use a different transmission brand than it has had all year.

Harvick, who enters this weekend third in points, confirmed the change Friday morning at Phoenix International Raceway.

The move comes after Harvick ran roughly the final 100 laps Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway holding his car in gear with his right hand while driving the car with his left hand.

Crew chief Rodney Childers was frustrated after last weekend’s race, saying that he was ready to change transmission brands after another failure.

“We’ve had way, way, way too many problems with them,’’ Childers said at Texas. “Something is going to have to change there. It’s never to late to change anything. We’re the only people in the entire garage that run that brand of transmission and I’m tired of dealing with them.’’

Harvick noted he had a similar issue with the transmission at Sonoma and knew from that experience that the more he let it pop out of gear, the faster it would occur.

“I just didn’t want it come out of gear,’’ Harvick said of holding the gear in place at Texas. “I’m left-handed dominant driver though the center of the corner. The exit of the corner was kind of where I go back to my right hand. That was really hardest part for me, was just controlling the car on the exit of the corner.’’

Harvick, who has won the past four Phoenix Cup races, has a 10-point cushion for a transfer spot to the championship round in Miami.

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