DOVER, Del. -- A day after he could only watch as Denny Hamlin tied him for most race victories in the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series, Kevin Harvick rebounded and collected win No. 7 Sunday, Aug. 23 -- and did it in dominating fashion.
The victory clinched the regular season points championship for Harvick with one more race to go before the playoffs start.
"With Denny winning yesterday, we needed to win today," Harvick said. "We need all the points we can get. You look at these playoffs, you just never know what to expect."
Harvick led a race-best 223 of 311 laps in winning Sunday's Drydene 311 race at Dover International Speedway. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver led five times in the race and many of those leads were by multiple seconds.
Harvick won the first two stages.
His seven victories move the 2014 Cup champ to within one of his 2018 total of eight.
"Man, what a year," said Harvick, who has won three of the last four races. "What a seven years. Just real proud of everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing.
"It's been a great year."
The race was the second of the weekend doubleheader at the track known as the Monster Mile.
Martin Truex Jr., of Joe Gibbs Racing, finished second at 3.25 seconds behind Harvick.
Finishing third was Jimmie Johnson of Hendrick Motorsports.
Rounding out the top five were Hendrick drivers William Byron and Alex Bowman.
For seven-time champion Johnson to win a record eighth Cup crown in his final season as a full-time driver, he will need a big race next weekend in the final pre-playoff race of the season at Daytona International Speedway.
Johnson, who has 11 career wins at Dover, started Sunday's race three points to the good in pursuit of the 16th and final playoff spot. But he didn't look as good as he did on Saturday. A pit road penalty in the second stage was a big hit to his chances to build on his lead over Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron.
His team took a late-race gamble by taking just two tires on a pit stop with 22 laps to go. That gave him the lead on the restart, but he was quickly passed by Harvick.
"I had a little bit of hope thinking it would work, thinking clean air would be so important" Johnson said of the two-tire call. "But, lot of laps on the left-side tires and it just didn't pan out."
He heads to Daytona four points out of 16th place.
"It was like a completely different race car, completely different race for us," said Byron, who finished 28th on Saturday. "Just felt good out there."
Defending series champion Kyle Busch came up well short in his quest to get his first victory of the season. He was involved in an early wreck and the damage sustained didn't knock him out, but it did slow him down a day after he finished third. He was 11th on Sunday.
Locked into the 10-race playoffs as a result of Sunday's race are race-winners Harvick, Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, Bowman, Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr., Austin Dillon and Cole Custer. Aric Almirola, Kyle Busch and Kurt Busch, based on points, have also earned spots.