Kevin Harvick opened up the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs with a victory at Darlington Raceway after Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Elliott made late contact.
Just one race into the four-round, 10-race 2020 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick has tied his career-best single-season win total with his eighth victory of the year, as he opened up the playoffs by winning the Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.
Harvick’s victory in this 367-lap race around the four-turn, 1.366-mile (2.198-kilometer) egg-shaped oval in Darlington, South Carolina came after late contact between race leader Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports and second place Martin Truex Jr. of Joe Gibbs Racing when Truex attempted to take the lead away from Elliott heading into turn one.
Both Truex’s #19 Toyota and Elliott’s #9 Chevrolet sustained damage, with Elliott ended up dropping to 20th place and Truex dropping to 22nd.
This marks two consecutive races at Darlington Raceway in which Elliott was in a solid position to win late but was taken out of contention via contact with a Joe Gibbs Racing driver who “thought he was clear”.
In an attempt to get in line, Kyle Busch wrecked Elliott out of what appeared to be a sure victory back in May in a battle for second place; Elliott was on newer tires than both Busch and teammate Denny Hamlin, the race leader and eventual winner.
Harvick, who moved into ninth place on the all-time wins list with his 57th career victory, held off a late charge from Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon, who settled for second place behind the wheel of his #3 Chevrolet just 0.343 seconds behind the driver of the #4 Ford. Team Penske’s Joey Logano overcame a rather poor race to finish in a solid third behind the wheel of his #22 Ford.
Reigning race winner Erik Jones led all of the Joe Gibbs Racing drivers in fourth place behind the wheel of his #20 Toyota as the highest finishing driver from outside of the 16-driver playoff field. He finished ahead of Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron in fifth behind the wheel of his #24 Chevrolet.
Hendrick Motorsports’ Alex Bowman finished in a solid sixth place behind the wheel of his #88 Chevrolet. Kyle Busch finished in seventh behind the wheel of his #18 Toyota ahead of his brother Kurt of Chip Ganassi Racing in eighth behind the wheel of his #1 Chevrolet.
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top 10 by finishing in ninth and 10th place in their #10 Ford and #14 Ford, respectively.
This race featured 18 lead changes among six drivers. Truex and Elliott combined to lead 310 laps, with Truex leading more than half of the race (196 laps led). Of the 39 drivers who competed in the race, 34 finished and 20 finished on the lead lap.
Here are the full race results of the 2020 Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.
1st – Kevin Harvick
2nd – Austin Dillon
3rd – Joey Logano
4th – Erik Jones
5th – William Byron
6th – Alex Bowman
7th – Kyle Busch
8th – Kurt Busch
9th – Aric Almirola
10th – Clint Bowyer
11th – Brad Keselowski
12th – Cole Custer
13th – Denny Hamlin
14th – Matt Kenseth
15th – Ryan Newman
16th – Michael McDowell
17th – Ryan Preece
18th – Jimmie Johnson
19th – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
20th – Chase Elliott
21st – Matt DiBenedetto
22nd – Martin Truex Jr.
23rd – Tyler Reddick
24th – Ryan Blaney
25th – Daniel Suarez
26th – Chris Buescher
27th – Ty Dillon
28th – Brennan Poole
29th – Ross Chastain
30th – J.J Yeley
31st – Quin Houff
32nd – Josh Bilicki
33rd – Joey Gase
34th – Christopher Bell
35th – Timmy Hill
36th – John Hunter Nemechek
37th – Corey LaJoie
38th – Bubba Wallace
39th – James Davison
Here are the updated playoff standings among the 16 drivers competing for the 2020 championship.
Rank – Driver: Points (Behind), (Wins/Playoff Points), (+/- cut line)
1st – Kevin Harvick: 2106 (0), (8 WINS/62 PP) – (1 WIN)
2nd – Denny Hamlin: 2087 (-19), (6 WINS/47 PP), (+54)
3rd – Joey Logano: 2060 (-46), (2 WINS/22 PP), (+27)
4th – Brad Keselowski: 2055 (-51), (3 WINS/29 PP), (+22)
5th – Alex Bowman: 2052 (-54), (1 WIN/9 PP), (+19)
6th – Martin Truex Jr.: 2049 (-57), (1 WIN/16 PP), (+16)
7th – Chase Elliott: 2045 (-61), (2 WINS/20 PP), (+12)
8th – Austin Dillon: 2043 (-63), (1 WIN/5 PP), (+10)
9th – William Byron: 2042 (-64), (1 WIN/7 PP), (+9)
10th – Kyle Busch: 2040 (-66), (0 WINS/3 PP), (+7)
11th – Kurt Busch: 2037 (-69), (0 WINS/1 PP), (+4)
12th – Aric Almirola: 2033 (-73), (0 WINS/5 PP), (+0)
————ROUND OF 12 CUT LINE————
12th – Clint Bowyer: 2033 (-73), (0 WINS/4 PP), (-0)
14th – Cole Custer: 2030 (-76), (1 WIN/5 PP), ( -3)
15th – Ryan Blaney: 2016 (-90), (1 WIN/13 PP), (-17)
15th – Matt DiBenedetto: 2016 (-90), (0 WINS/0 PP), (-17)
The second race of the round of 16 of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs is the Federated Auto Parts 400, which is set to be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network from Richmond Raceway beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, September 12.