Harvick wins "AAA 400" in Dover to advance in Chase for the Sprint Cup
Drivers that had to deliver in Dover did in the first knockout race in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.
Kevin Harvick had to win Sunday’s “AAA 400” at Dover International Speedway to advance, and got the job done in dominating fashion.
The defending Sprint Cup champ led 355 of 400 laps to earn his first win in 25 tries on the Monster Mile and with it - an automatic slot in round two.
“We did our job and we were able to punch our ticket to move forward. So, we’re still in the battle and still looking forward to the challenge of just making it through the next round," said Harvick. "It’s like I told you guys before - some stats are going to be ugly, some stats are going to be pretty, it’s just a matter of how they add up as to who moves on. It sounds like it was pretty intense as far as the points go, but we live to fight another day.”
Harvick says he and his team really didn’t feel tremendous pressure despite what was at stake.
“For us, we all knew what we had to do and it was really no different preparation than what we do on a weekly basis," said Harvick. "All in all, it was business as usual and I think when you look at the first three Dover races we had here (with this team), it was definitely right in line with the things that we’ve done here before. We just didn’t have any problems today. ”
Harvick wasn’t the only one that used a strong Dover run to barely make the Chase cut from 16 to 12. Kyle Busch finished second and Dale Earnhardt Junior third to clinch spots in the next round. Jamie McMurray finished fourth and tied with Earnhardt Junior for the 12th spot, but Earnhardt’s third place finish gave him the tiebreaker over McMurray.
There was one stunning elimination at the Monster Mile– Jimmie Johnson. The six-time Sprint Cup champ and 10-time winner at Dover had mechanical issues early and finished 41st to miss the first round cut.
Four-time Sprint Cup champ Jeff Gordon finished 12th in his last run on the Monster Mile before retiring at the end of the year. He advances in the Chase, which continue next week in Charlotte.