DOVER, Delaware — Kevin Harvick dominated a race he had to win to advance to the second round of NASCAR's playoffs, while six-time champion Jimmie Johnson was a stunning elimination from contention.
Harvick led 354 laps Sunday at Dover International Speedway and earned the third automatic berth in the 12-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup championship field. Harvick was mired in 15th in the standings and had to win to keep his title defense alive.
Johnson entered fifth in the standings and, with 10 career wins at Dover, seemed a lock to advance. His No. 48 Chevrolet was forced off the track for 36 laps with a torn rear axle seal and he plummeted in the standings.
Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard and Clint Bowyer also were eliminated as the Chase field was sliced from 16 to 12. Dale Earnhardt Jr. tied with McMurray in points and earned the final spot on a tiebreaker.