DOVER, Del. – Kyle Larson pulled away in the final stage and won the playoff race Sunday at Dover International Speedway to snap a 75-race winless streak and earn an automatic berth in the next round.

Larson had nine runner-up finishes in the No. 42 Chevrolet since his last win Sept. 9, 2017, at Richmond Raceway, but got the coveted playoff victory he needed at Dover to keep the Chip Ganassi Racing driver in championship contention.

“What a day,” Larson said after climbing out of his car on the start-finish line. “This is unbelievable. I’ve always wanted to win a Cup race here. I’ve been close a number of times, so to get a golden monster (trophy) is going to be really sweet.

“I’ve kept saying that I felt really close to winning here or anywhere right now. Our pit crew has been doing a better job, our team has been doing a better job. I’ve been doing a better job.”

Larson has six career Cup victories and his first one in the playoffs. He led 154 laps, nearly all coming in the final stage, after Denny Hamlin went from dominant to dud midway through the race. Hamlin led 219 laps before fading.

Martin Truex Jr. won the spring race at Dover and didn’t have enough down the stretch to catch Larson and complete the season sweep.

“We just ran out of time,” Truex said.

Larson did win the non-points NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway this year and felt like he was inching closer toward a checkered flag on the strength of a sensational late-summer run of top-10 finishes.

The 27-year-old Larson escaped the first round without any serious drama and can now head to treacherous Talladega Superspeedway and then Kansas Speedway to end the second round without any serious concerns. He’s the first driver in the field of eight.

“Everybody in this playoff field is going to be stressing next week at Talladega except for me, so that’s good,” Larson said. “Last time I was at Talladega I was on my lid. I could still end up on my lid next week, but it’s not going to matter after this win.

Playoff drivers took the top six spots: Truex was second, followed by Alex Bowman, Kevin Harvick, Hamlin and Kyle Busch. Matt DiBenedetto, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top 10.

PLAYOFF PERIL: Joey Logano and Chase Elliott both had their races ruined before the race even finished 10 laps. Logano failed to start the race because of a broken axle on the No. 22 Ford. He eventually hit the track more than 20 laps down and finished 34th.

“We just used our mulligan up,” Logano said. “We’re not a must-win but we must do really well in the next two races.”

Elliott, who won last week at Charlotte, had the engine in his No. 9 Chevrolet blow up just laps into the race and he finished last.

Elliott won Dover last season and will likely have to win at Talladega or Kansas to advance into the next round.

“I just had an engine failure of some sort,” Elliott said in the garage. “It just quit running. It didn’t really seem like anything was off. We were just kind of making laps and then obviously had a failure.”

“It’s an unfortunate way to start this round for sure.”

Ryan Blaney became the third playoff driver to encounter major problems when he lost the brakes in the No. 12 Ford during the third stage.

STAGE 2: Denny Hamlin led 219 laps but faded at the end of the second stage to allow Martin Truex Jr. to zip by him and win the second segment. Kyle Larson also passed Hamlin at the end of the stage to finish second, while Hamlin dropped to third. Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Alex Bowman, Erik Jones, Blaney, Brad Keselowski and Clint Bowyer.

STAGE 1: Pole sitter Hamlin won the opening stage, dominating from the drop of the green flag and only losing the lead while the field made green flag pit stops. His Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Truex finished second, Larson third, Wiliam Byron fourth and Harvick fifth. Bowman, Johnson, Kyle Busch, Jones and Blaney rounded out the top 10.

Drydene 400 results

Sunday at the 1-mile Dover International Speedway (starting position in parentheses):

1. (2) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 400 laps, 57 points.

2. (3) Martin Truex Jr, Toyota, 400, 54.

3. (12) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 400, 44.

4. (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 400, 46.

5. (1) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 400, 50.

6. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 400, 34.

7. (20) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 400, 30.

8. (11) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 400, 39.

9. (9) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 399, 28.

10. (17) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 399, 28.

11. (16) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 399, 28.

12. (13) Paul Menard, Ford, 398, 25.

13. (6) William Byron, Chevrolet, 398, 31.

14. (15) Daniel Suarez, Ford, 398, 23.

15. (8) Erik Jones, Toyota, 398, 28.

16. (19) Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Ford, 398, 21.

17. (7) Aric Almirola, Ford, 398, 20.

18. (27) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 398, 19.

19. (32) Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 396, 18.

20. (26) Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 395, 17.

21. (31) Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 394, 16.

22. (24) Ryan Newman, Ford, 393, 15.

23. (25) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 393, 14.

24. (28) Michael McDowell, Ford, 391, 13.

25. (23) Matt Tifft, Ford, 390, 12.

26. (30) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 389, 0.

27. (21) David Ragan, Ford, 388, 10.

28. (29) Corey Lajoie, Ford, 385, 9.

29. (33) BJ McLeod, Chevrolet, 382, 0.

30. (36) Joe Nemechek, Chevrolet, 381, 0.

31. (34) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 380, 0.

32. (35) JJ Yeley, Ford, 380, 0.

33. (37) Garrett Smithley, Chevrolet, 377, 0.

34. (14) Joey Logano, Ford, 375, 3.

35. (10) Ryan Blaney, Ford, suspension, 297, 6.

36. (22) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, engine, 232, 1.

37. (38) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, handling, 180, 1.

38. (5) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, engine, 8, 1.

Race Statistics

Average Speed of Race Winner: 135.734 mph.

Time of Race: 2 hours, 56 minutes, 49 seconds.

Margin of Victory: 1.578 seconds.

Caution Flags: 3 for 17 laps.

Lead Changes: 14 among 9 drivers.

Lap Leaders: D. Hamlin (P) 1-11;K. Larson (P) 12;D. Hamlin (P) 13-75;W. Byron (P) 76;J. Johnson 77;K. Busch 78-80;D. Suarez 81;T. Dillon 82;D. Hamlin (P) 83-183;K. Larson (P) 184-185;D. Hamlin (P) 186-228;M. Truex Jr. (P) 229-243;K. Larson (P) 244-321;P. Menard 322-327;K. Larson (P) 328-400.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Denny Hamlin (P) 4 times for 218 laps; Kyle Larson (P) 4 times for 154 laps; Martin Truex Jr. (P) 1 time for 15 laps; Paul Menard 1 time for 6 laps; Kurt Busch 1 time for 3 laps; William Byron (P) 1 time for 1 lap; Daniel Suarez 1 time for 1 lap; Jimmie Johnson 1 time for 1 lap; Ty Dillon 1 time for 1 lap.

Wins: M.Truex, 6; D.Hamlin, 4; Ky.Busch, 4; K.Harvick, 3; B.Keselowski, 3; C.Elliott, 3; J.Logano, 2; K.Larson, 1; A.Bowman, 1; Ku.Busch, 1; E.Jones, 1.

Top 16 in Points: 1. M.Truex, 3095; 2. D.Hamlin, 3080; 3. Ky.Busch, 3080; 4. K.Harvick, 3074; 5. K.Larson, 3063; 6. B.Keselowski, 3052; 7. A.Bowman, 3049; 8. J.Logano, 3032; 9. W.Byron, 3032; 10. C.Bowyer, 3028; 11. C.Elliott, 3025; 12. R.Blaney, 3010; 13. A.Almirola, 2101; 14. R.Newman, 2085; 15. Ku.Busch, 2084; 16. E.Jones, 2037.