Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin continue to trade wins in the NASCAR Cup Series, further solidifying their status at championship favorites.
A day after Hamlin dominated and swept all three stages at Dover International Speedway, Harvick did the same in his Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang. Harvick passed Jimmie Johnson for the win off the final restart with 17 laps to go. After winning both stages, Harvick led a total of 223 laps in the Drydene 311 and won by over three seconds.
“I have to thank everybody on our Mobil 1 Ford Mustang; congratulations to Ford on their 700th Cup win,” said Harvick. “I want to thank everyone on this team, Rodney [Childers, crew chief] and everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing for overcoming what happened yesterday with the track bar and nailing the balance today. I want to thank all the partners, Jimmy Johns, Hunt Brothers Pizza, Busch Beer.
“What a year. What a seven years (with this team). I’m just really proud of everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing for being able to drive this car. Week after week, they just put so much effort into making this thing go fast, and it has been a great year.”
Harvick once again leads the Cup Series in overall wins with seven. He also clinched the regular-season championship and will be awarded 15 additional playoff points when the postseason begins next month.
Martin Truex Jr. finished second while Johnson faded to a third-place finish on two tires. Johnson’s crew chief Cliff Daniels called for just two tires on the team’s final pit stop when the caution flew with 23 laps to go because of Corey LaJoie cutting a tire and hitting the wall.
Johnson led the field to the final restart with 17 laps to go, but could not clear Harvick and lost the top spot in Turns 3 and 4. He did hold off his Hendrick Motorsports teammates William Byron, who finished fourth, and Alex Bowman, who finished fifth.
Completing the top 10 was Joey Logano in sixth, Aric Almirola in seventh, Brad Keselowski in eighth, Austin Dillon in ninth, and rookie Cole Custer in 10th.
Kyle Busch finished 11th with a damaged Toyota Camry. Busch was hit in the rear bumper by Chase Elliott and bounced off the wall in an accordion effect of a Lap 6 accident where Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was spun off Turn 4 by Joey Logano.
A loose wheel knocked Hamlin out of contention, and he finished 19th. Running second, Hamlin had to make an unscheduled green-flag pit stop with 85 laps to go.
There were 15 lead changes among six drivers and seven caution flags. There was also a red flag at the end of Stage 1 as officials had to do track repair in the restart zone.