Kevin Harvick smiles in the garage area before practice for the NASCAR Cup series auto race, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018, at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Del. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

The Latest: Harvick wins 1st stage in NASCAR race at Dover

October 07, 2018 - 2:23 pm

DOVER, Del. (AP) — The Latest on the NASCAR race at Dover International Speedway (all times local):

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3:20 p.m.

Kevin Harvick has won the first stage of the NASCAR playoff race at Dover.

The race winner earns an automatic berth into the round of eight of NASCAR's playoffs. Harvick was about as dominant early in his No. 4 Ford as he was in May when he won the first Dover race.

Harvick and Kyle Busch are tied with seven victories this season.

Rain washed out qualifying and the field was set by points, putting the 12 playoff drivers at the top of the field. The stage ended with playoff drivers running 1-11 and Alex Bowman a lap down.

Jimmie Johnson, who has the Dover record with 11 wins, was forced to the garage during the pace laps because of mechanical woes on the No. 48 Chevrolet. Johnson's bid for a record eighth NASCAR Cup title ended last week when he was eliminated from the playoffs.

He eventually returned to the race 10 laps down. Johnson's race got worse when he was penalized twice on pit road and ended the first stage in 38th.

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2:25 p.m.

Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick are on the front row for Sunday's NASCAR Cup race at Dover.

Busch and Harvick lead NASCAR with seven wins as the series shifts into the second round of the playoffs.

Stewart-Haas Racing holds four of the 12 playoff spots with Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola. Team Penske is right behind SHR with Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski. Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman are in the field for Hendrick Motorsports. Martin Truex Jr. (Furniture Row Racing), Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing) and Kyle Larson (Chip Ganassi Racing) round out the playoff drivers.

Dover marked the first race where NASCAR bets could be placed on site. The line at the kiosk was steady all morning and stretched about 40 deep an hour before the flag dropped to start the race. Busch and Harvick each had 3-1 odds to win the race.

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