Kevin Harvick wins at Darlington after Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Elliott hit the wall

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Nick Bromberg
·5 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Kevin Harvick (4) celebrates a win at the NASCAR Cup Series auto race, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020, in Darlington, S.C. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Kevin Harvick won his eighth race of the year on Sunday night. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Martin Truex Jr.’s attempted pass of Chase Elliott gave Kevin Harvick a Darlington win.

Harvick won the Southern 500 after Truex wasn’t able to pass Elliott for the lead with 15 laps to go in the race. As Truex wasn’t clear of Elliott entering Turn 1, both cars ended up in the wall. Elliott slowed dramatically after the contact and Truex had to head to pit road for a flat tire as Harvick took over the lead.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

The win is Harvick’s eighth of the season. He automatically advances to the second round of the playoffs with the victory, though that advancement was pretty much a formality entering the first race of the 10-race playoffs. Harvick won the regular-season points title as he scored the most points and had the most wins of any driver through the first 26 races of the season.

Truex had the fastest car throughout the race. He won the first two stages and was on a third-stage pit strategy that seemed destined to pay off. Truex and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates were on a one-stop strategy for the final stage while Harvick and Elliott were trying to stop twice in the final stage.

But a caution for debris as the pit strategies were unfolding gave the track position advantage to Elliott and Harvick and others on the two-stop strategy. While Truex was able to chase — no pun intended — Elliott down over the final 40 laps of the race, he wasn’t really able to try pass him.

His attempt with 15 laps to go was his best shot. That’s why he went for it so aggressively. It didn’t work out, and Harvick ended up as the guy in victory lane.

“This Busch Beer Ford Mustang wasn’t where we wanted it to be, but the leaders got tangled up there and next thing you know we were racing for it,” Harvick said.

Harvick’s career year

We’ve spent a lot of real estate on this website exclaiming about how good Harvick has been in 2020. And we’re going to spend some more. He deserves it.

The win pushes Harvick’s average finish this season to an astounding 6.4 through 27 races. That’s on pace to be the best average finish since Jeff Gordon had an average finish of 5.7 in 1998 when he had 13 wins.

Harvick probably won’t win five more races this year to tie Gordon’s mark 22 years ago. Though at this rate, five wins in nine races over the rest of the season isn’t all that unachievable.

Tying something else Gordon did is a little more achievable. If Harvick finishes in the top 10 in eight of the remaining nine races, he can tie Gordon’s 30 top-10s in 2007. Harvick’s win on Sunday night was his 22nd top-10 finish of the season.

When Harvick won his Cup Series title in 2014, he had five wins and 20 top-10 finishes. While the success of his 2020 season will ultimately be judged on his ability to win a second Cup Series title, there’s no denying that he’s on pace to have the best season of his career.

Blaney’s in trouble early

Ryan Blaney was the driver with the worst playoff day. Blaney finished 24th on Sunday after he had to pit for a flat tire right before a mid-race restart. His team wasn’t ready for him at the time of the stop, so the clunky four-tire change took a lot longer than it should have.

While Blaney got himself back onto the lead lap, he never made any headway toward the top 15. He finished 24th on Sunday and didn’t score any stage points. He’s now tied for 15th in the playoff standings with Matt DiBenedetto and is 17 points behind 12th with two races to go in the first round.

James Davison’s accomplishment

James Davison raced in the Indianapolis 500. He finished last because of a massive brake failure four laps into the race.

Sunday night, he raced in the Southern 500. He finished last because of a mechanical failure.

According to our research, Davison is the first driver to finish last in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Southern 500. And he did it in the same year. And, crazy enough, while driving for the same team. He drove a Rick Ware Racing entry affiliated with Dale Coyne Racing in the Indy 500 and for Rick Ware Racing on Sunday night at Darlington.

Playoff standings

1. Kevin Harvick (Win)

2. Denny Hamlin, 2,087

3. Joey Logano, 2,060

4. Brad Keselowski, 2,055

5. Alex Bowman, 2,052

6. Martin Truex Jr., 2,049

7. Chase Elliott, 2,045

8. Austin Dillon, 2,043

9. William Byron, 2,042

10. Kyle Busch, 2,040

11. Kurt Busch, 2,037

12. Clint Bowyer, 2,033

12. Aric Almirola, 2,033

14. Cole Custer, 2,030

15. Ryan Blaney, 2,016

15. Matt DiBenedetto, 2,016

Full results

1. Kevin Harvick

2. Austin Dillon

3. Joey Logano

4. Erik Jones

5. William Byron

6. Alex Bowman

7. Kyle Busch

8. Kurt Busch

9. Aric Almirola

10. Clint Bowyer

11. Brad Keselowski

12. Cole Custer

13. Denny Hamlin

14. Matt Kenseth

15. Ryan Newman

16. Michael McDowell

17. Ryan Preece

18. Jimmie Johnson

19. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

20. Chase Elliott

21. Matt DiBenedetto

22. Martin Truex Jr.

23. Tyler Reddick

24. Ryan Blaney

25. Daniel Suarez

26. Chris Buescher

27. Ty Dillon

28. Brennan Poole

29. Ross Chastain

30. JJ Yeley

31. Quin Houff

32. Josh Bilicki

33. Joey Gase

34. Christopher Bell

35. Timmy Hill

36. John Hunter Nemechek

37. Corey LaJoie

38. Bubba Wallace

39. James Davison

– – – – – – –

Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

More from Yahoo Sports: