Sports Writer LOUDON, N.H. -- Kevin Harvick won Sunday at New Hampshire to earn a spot in the second round of the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs, pulling away off a restart a year after a late loss at the track.
Harvick ran out of fuel late last year to lose and faced a win-or-elimination race the next week at Dover. Harvick rallied for one of the biggest wins of his career to survive another round.
His drama came a race earlier this season. Matt Kenseth and dominated the second half of the race on Sunday and seemed poised to win the New Hampshire race for the third straight time. He won in a similar situation in 2014 at Phoenix when he needed a victory to advance to the championship race.
Harvick, the 2014 Sprint Cup champion, was able to zip past Kenseth on the final laps and he held on to join Martin Truex Jr. in the second round. Truex won the Chase opener at Chicagoland.
"One of our main goals this year was to not stretch ourselves out so bad," Harvick said. "I feel like the performance of the car and the things that we're doing are good enough to be competitive, we just need to not make mistakes and go from there."
Harvick won for the third time this season and first time at New Hampshire in 10 years.
Chase drivers took the top eight spots. The 16-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup championship field will be cut to 12 after Dover.
Kenseth led 105 of 300 laps and would have clinched with the win, just as he did last season at New Hampshire when he was in perfect position to take advantage of Harvick's miscue. He appeared to slow down just a bit off the last restart with five laps left, allowing Harvick to race side-by-side before he took off for his 11th win in 100 career starts at Stewart-Haas Racing.
"It was just a smooth restart. I just didn't want to spin the tires," Harvick said. "I don't know what happened to him, or if I just timed it right."
Kenseth won the May race at Dover and appears in solid shape to reach the second round.
"I thought we had a top-two or three car today," Kenseth said. "But we ran good last week, we ran decent today, we'll just go to Dover."
McMurray, Dillon, Stewart and Buescher are the bottom four drivers in the standings.
Truex led a race-high 141 laps and nipped at the dominant Kenseth until the penultimate restart. He struggled to keep up with Kenseth and quickly fell back to fourth.