Race Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: William Byron of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-90):
● Clint Bowyer started 13th and finished seventh to earn four bonus points
● Despite no track time before the race, the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Ford Mustang enjoyed a smooth start until a crash at the back of the field brought out the caution on lap one.
● Bowyer reported his car was tight and dropped to 17th before rallying back to 14th at the lap-30 competition caution.
● The Kansas native restarted the race in 14th on lap 40 and moved to 10th within two laps turning top-five lap speeds.
● Bowyer continued a steady climb to the front turning ultra-quick times before finishing the stage in seventh.
● Minor air pressure changes plus a quick stop by the No. 14 crew moved Bowyer from seventh to fifth during the stage break.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 91-185):
● Started fifth, finished fifth to earn six bonus points.
● The No.14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Ford Mustang stayed in the top eight through cautions on lap 109 and 123.
● Bowyer raced in fifth at the lap-135 mark as he searched for the fastest way around the 1.33-mile, egg-shaped oval.
● The Ford driver battled for fourth midway through the stage with Denny Hamlin before another round of stops for a lap-154 caution.
● After all cars pitted under caution, Bowyer restarted the race in sixth for an eight-lap shootout to conclude the stage.
● Bowyer used a good restart to climb to fifth before the stage ended.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 186-293):
● Started seventh, finished 17th.
● The No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Ford Mustang dropped to ninth on the restart but moved to sixth with 70 laps remaining.
● Bowyer raced in seventh with 60 to go when he reported his car was starting to get very loose.
● Bowyer faded to 10th with 50 laps to go telling the crew, “I’m in trouble. I don’t know what happened here.”
● A caution allowed Bowyer to visit pit road to tighten the car, but trouble during the stop dropped him to 15th with 34 laps to go.
● Bowyer suffered debris on the grill in the final laps and dropped to 17th by the time the checkered flag flew.
● Bowyer’s 17th-place finish plus 10 bonus points earned in the first two stages moved him from 13th to 10th in the standings.
● Harvick’s victory marked the 73rd overall win for SHR. It was the organization’s 56th points-paying NASCAR Cup Series win, its first of the season and its second at Darlington.
● This was SHR’s 20th NASCAR Cup Series victory with Ford. The team won its first race with Ford when former driver Kurt Busch captured the 2017 Daytona 500.
● Harvick is responsible for SHR’s previous win at Darlington (2014 Southern 500).
● This was Ford’s milestone 30th NASCAR Cup Series victory at Darlington. NASCAR Hall of Famer Curtis Turner won Ford’s first race at Darlington in 1966.
Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“That stunk. I don’t know how that got away from us. Really disappointed with what happened. I’ll be mad about this for a while, but we’ll get over it and be ready for Wednesday night. Our Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Ford was fast and it was cool to be back racing today, just wish we had a better finish. Glad Kevin (Harvick) got SHR and Ford to victory lane.”