LOUDON, N.H. — Kevin Harvick has thrived as NASCAR’s version of a Game 7 master, steeling his nerves and flourishing in those win-or-else races that keep a championship push alive.

His Chase off to a rocky start, Harvick again injected Sprint Cup’s playoffs with a rousing finish that allowed him to avoid a must-win situation next week as he earned a spot in the next playoff round.

Harvick won Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, pulling away on a late restart.

“It’s kind of like an addiction,” Harvick said. “You just love the rush of being able to be behind and be able to perform and make that happen.”

Harvick finished 20th in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship opener, which put him 15th in the playoff standings. With another weak finish at New Hampshire, Harvick may have gone into next week’s race at Dover needing a win to advance, just as he did last year.

His lap times in the No. 4 Chevrolet only got faster deeper into the race, and he was soon nipping at Martin Truex Jr. and Matt Kenseth at the front of the field.

Kenseth dominated the second half of the race and seemed poised to win at New Hampshire for the third straight time.

Harvick, the 2014 Sprint Cup champion, had enough juice in his Chevy to zip past Kenseth with five laps left and join Truex as the drivers locked into the next round. Truex won the Chase opener at Chicagoland, and he led a race-high 141 laps at New Hampshire.

Harvick ran out of fuel late last year at New Hampshire and faced a win-or-be-eliminated race the next week at Dover. Harvick, who won for the third time this season, rallied last year for one of the biggest wins of his career to survive another round.

He won in a similar situation in 2014 at Phoenix when he needed a victory to advance to the championship race. Harvick went on to win the finale and the championship at Homestead.

“The last two years we’ve kind of just worn ourselves out and really stressed out over trying to perform at this level,” he said.

At Dover, it’s up to 14 other drivers to worry about a win.

Chase drivers took the top eight spots Sunday. 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 fuel foul-up. Kenseth appeared to slow down just a bit on the last restart with five laps left, allowing Harvick to race side-by-side before taking 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.”

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