For the second consecutive week, Kevin Harvick dominated the field in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Unlike last week, when he ran out of fuel with 3 laps remaining to deny him a victory, Harvick closed the deal on Sunday and won the AAA 400 at the Dover International Speedway “Monster Mile.”
After last week’s disaster, Harvick was in a must-win situation on Sunday. If he did not finish first, Harvick would be eliminated from the Chase.
“We weren’t in a great position coming into today,” Harvick said from Victory Lane. In a reference to a team effort that got him through, he added “but that’s what these guys are made of.”
Harvick led 355 of the 400 laps, most importantly the last lap, that got him to the next round allowing him a further opportunity to defend the title he won in 2014. Finishing second was Kyle Busch, who also qualified for the second round.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. finished third on Sunday that enabled him to take the twelfth and final spot in the Chase. Jeff Gordon, in the final races of his career, kept his championship hopes alive by finishing twelfth on Sunday.
Others moving on to the next three-race elimination segment were Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Carl Edwards, Martin Truex, Jr., Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, and Ryan Newman.
Of the 16 original Chase qualifiers, four were eliminated on Sunday. The biggest name was 6-time series champion Jimmie Johnson, who finished 41st after his car suffered mechanical problems early in the race. Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer and Paul Menard also failed to advance.
The next phase of the Chase is a three-race series called the Contender Round. The top 8 drivers after the Campingworld.com 500 in Talladega, Ala. on October 25 will advance to the third round.
On Saturday, the series moves to Charlotte, North Carolina for the Bank of America 500.
The results for the AAA 400 are here.