DOVER, Del. — Jeff Gordon won the third race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship for an automatic spot in the 12-driver field that advanced to the next round.
Gordon was in control in the closing laps Sunday at Dover International Speedway and joined Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano as the three drivers who were guaranteed a berth in the next Chase round with victories.
“It wasn’t about the points. It wasn’t about just squeezing by to get to the next round,” Gordon said after his fourth win of the season and 92nd overall. “It was about making a statement. I don’t know how you make a bigger statement than what this team just did right there.”
Kurt Busch, AJ Allmendinger, Greg Biffle and Aric Almirola were eliminated from championship contention. Four more drivers will be eliminated in the next three-race segment that starts next week at Kansas Speedway.
Kasey Kahne was the last driver to make the Chase cut. Kevin Harvick also advanced, along with Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman.
Hamlin was the lone driver of the bottom four entering Dover to race his way into the top 12. The points will reset for the Kansas, Charlotte and Talladega.
“The tracks just keep getting better for us as the Chase goes on,” Hamlin said. “This is going to be a great comeback story.”
Kahne survived after falling multiple laps down and needed every point he could muster to crack the top 12.
Gordon won for the fifth time at Dover and first since 2001, leading four Hendrick Motorsports drivers into the next round.
“I don’t know what I’ve found, but I think a lot of it has to do with (crew chief) Alan Gustafson and all the guys on this No. 24 team,” Gordon said. “They’ve just giving me such an awesome race car team this year. I’m having so much fun.”
Team Penske was rolling, winning four of the last five races dating to Bristol, including the first two Chase races. Keselowski was second at Dover to continue his strong Chase effort through three races.
Johnson, Logano and Kenseth completed the top five at Dover. Chase drivers took 11 of the top 13 spots.
Harvick led a whopping 223 laps from his seventh pole of the season until he suffered tire woes and finished 13th.
“We can beat every car on the race track. We just need some good luck,” Harvick said. “If we get some luck, we’ll win races and have a shot at the championship.”
Kurt Busch, the 2004 Cup champion, failed to advance in his milestone 500th career start.
“It just was tight the last 100 miles,” he said. “You can’t expect to advance running 15th. You have to be more competitive.”
Allmendinger fell two points shy of the cutoff. Busch was six off, Biffle seven and Almirola 18.