NCS: Truex and Elliott Tangle; Harvick Wins Playoff Opener at Darlington

NCS: Truex and Elliott Tangle; Harvick Wins Playoff Opener at Darlington Getty Images for NASCAR

Kevin Harvick took the checkered flag in Sunday’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway in a surprise victory. Harvick took the lead with 13 circuits to go when Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Elliott made contact while racing for the win. Truex had to pit because of a cut tire while Elliott slid to 20th.

“Anytime you can win the Southern 500 is a good day," said Harvick after the race. "This is one of the most prestigious races in our sport and this is one the most prestigious racetracks in our sport, so anytime you can win at Darlington it’s a big deal, but, man, Southern 500!”

Austin Dillon took a shot at the win on the final lap but could not make the momentum stick. Dillon, starting the 71st annual event in 12th, ended the night sitting second on the pylon. The driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet leaves the track with three top five and eight top 10 finishes.

As for Harvick, the series veteran will leave Darlington with his 57th career NASCAR Cup Series victory. He goes into the second race of the playoffs with 18 top five and 22 top 10 finishes with eight wins in 2020.

Joey Logano rounded out the top three finishers on Sunday at Darlington. Logano, piloting the No. 22 Shell Penzoil Ford, picked up his seventh top five and 15th top 10 of the year.

Erik Jones and William Byron rounded out the top five.

Taking home top 10s were Alex Bowman, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer.

Seven yellow flags, one being for a competition caution at lap 25, slowed the Southern 500. 22nd-place finisher Martin Truex Jr. claimed both stages while four of the yellows were for either stage breaks or debris.

“It’s Darlington and typically you don’t want to go in side-by-side. I felt like I had enough of a run and enough space there that the last foot or so he (Chase Elliott) was going to understand that if I was committed, we both weren’t going to make it," Truex described the incident with Elliott. "Typically, here that’s kind of how you race. If a guy gets a run on you and he’s just about got you cleared, you have to give that last little bit. Now obviously, the end of the race, probably the pass for the win, he wanted to drive it on in there and I was committed to being clear and there was no way we were both going to make the corners. Basically, when I made up my mind and I was driving it in there and then he drove in on my right-rear quarter, there was no possible way that we both weren’t crashing. That’s what happened.”

“He (Truex) had a run on me there off of four and he just kind of cleared himself into one. He was close, but he wasn’t all the way clear, obviously. I hate it, obviously we had a fast NAPA Camaro - fast enough to contend," said Elliott. "We needed a little pace there to extend our lead instead of playing defense, but regardless I thought we were in a good spot. I ran the bottom in three and four to see if there was anything left down there, that’s what kind of gave him the run and then he just slid up in to my left front, I felt like and on we went.”

Bubba Wallace spinning in turn four was the result of the fourth yellow of the night. The driver of the No. 43 Chevrolet completed 217 of the 367 circuits and finished 38th in the garage.

John Hunter Nemechek brought out the yellow on lap 246 after going around on the frontstretch. Nemechek, son of Joe Nemechek, finished 36th in the garage as a result.

The series heads to Richmond Raceway on September 12th for the Federated Auto Parts 400. The event will air live on NBCSN and MRN Radio at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Brett Winningham

Brett has been following the sport of NASCAR since the beginning of the 2006 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Since Brett was 13, he has had a passion of chasing a job in sports that not many get the opportunity of doing. He has been in the NASCAR media since the middle of the 2010 season. Since then, he has been a part of many racing podcast shows to improve his talents. You can find him on twitter @NASCAR_Brett.