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Harvick Secures Spot in Contender Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup

Date:             Oct. 4, 2015
Event:            AAA 400 (Round 29 of 36)
Series:           NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location:        Dover (Del.) International Speedway (1-mile, concrete oval) 
Winner:          Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Chevrolet)
SHR Finish:    Kevin Harvick (Started 15th, Finished 1st / Running, completed 400 of 400 laps)
Kurt Busch (Started 7th, Finished 17th / Running, completed 400 of 400 laps)
Danica Patrick (Started 24th, Finished 21st / Running, completed 398 of 400 laps)
Tony Stewart (Started 25th, Finished 26th / Running, completed 396 of 400 laps)
SHR Points:    Kevin Harvick (3,000 points – Advances to Contender Round of Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup)
Kurt Busch (3,000 points – Advances to Contender Round of Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup)
Danica Patrick (24th with 597 points)
Tony Stewart (25th with 581 points)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent Sunday at Dover (Del.) International Speedway by winning the AAA 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. The victory punched Harvick’s ticket to the Contender Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Harvick came into Dover needing to win to advance from the Challenger Round.
This was the 30th point-paying Sprint Cup win for SHR since its inception in 2009 and the organization’s fifth this season. Harvick won earlier this year at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway and SHR teammate Kurt Busch won at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway and Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. It was also the 750th Sprint Cup win for Chevrolet.
Harvick started 15th and led seven times for a race-high 355 laps around the 1-mile, concrete oval en route to his 31st career Sprint Cup win but first at Dover. This was the most laps Harvick has ever led in a Sprint Cup race. His previous high was 272 laps led at Richmond on May 6, 2006. Harvick’s laps-led total so far this season stands at 2,031. With seven races still remaining, Harvick is on track to set a new career high, eclipsing his previous laps-led mark of 2,137 set last year en route to the Sprint Cup championship.
Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 17th after running among the top-five for much of the 400-lap race. With less than 100 laps remaining, the left-front jack bolt backed out, causing the Haas Automation machine to lose ride height. Nonetheless, Busch also advanced to the Contender Round, as his points tally during the Challenger Round was strong enough to place him among the top-12. 
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 21st. 
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 26th.
Kyle Busch finished 2.639 seconds behind Harvick in the runner-up spot, while Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jamie McMurray and Aric Almirola rounded out the top-five. Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Larson and Joey Logano comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were eight caution periods for 43 laps, with three drivers failing to finish.
As the third race in the 10-race Chase, Dover served as the first elimination race. The original, 16-driver Chase field was whittled down to 12 following the AAA 400, with McMurray, Jimmie Johnson, Paul Menard and Clint Bowyer failing to make the cut.
Joining Harvick and Busch in advancing from the Challenger Round to the Contender Round were Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Logano, Carl Edwards, Martin Truex Jr., Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman and Earnhardt. All had their respective point tallies reset to 3,000. 
Three more races will be run with the next cutoff coming after the Oct. 25 race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, whereupon the Chase field shrinks to eight for the Eliminator Round. Another three races will be run after that, where after the Nov. 15 race at Phoenix, only four drivers will advance to the final, winner-take-all Championship Round Nov. 22 in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. 
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Bank of America 500 on Oct. 10 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. The race begins at 7 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC.

Congratulations to Kevin Harvick and the Stewart-Haas team. View the full list of SEM sponsored drivers.

Photo credit Rainier Ehrhardt/2015 NASCAR

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