Event: Darlington 500k
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Darlington (S.C.) Raceway (1.336-mile oval)
Format: 228 laps, broken into three stages (60 laps/65 laps/103 laps)
Start/Finish: 20th/3rd (Running, completed 208 of 208 laps)
Point Standing: (1st with 258 points, 34 points ahead of Joey Logano)
Note: Race called official 20 laps short of its scheduled 228-lap distance due to rain.
Race Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Clint Bowyer of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Clint Bowyer of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-60):
● Kevin Harvick started 20th and finished 15th.
● During the competition caution, Harvick brought the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang to pit road for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment and raised the track bar one round.
● The changes did not work for Harvick as the car had no rear grip.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 61-125):
● Harvick started 14th and finished fifth, earning six bonus points.
● On lap 64, Harvick brought the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang to pit road for four tire, fuel a tire pressure and track bar adjustment. The crew went back on their adjustments.
● On lap 73, Harvick pitted for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment.
● Harvick got by leader Martin Truex Jr., for the lead on lap 98.
● On lap 109, Harvick pitted for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment. Said rear grip was good, but the front end needed some work.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 126-228):
● Harvick started fifth and finished third.
● On lap 128, Harvick, pitted for four tires and fuel. Was the first car off pit road.
● While running third on lap 159, Harvick radioed that his car was “plowing tight.”
● With 56 laps to go, Harvick had fallen from third to eighth.
● On lap 175, Harvick brought the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang to pit road for four tires, fuel and two rounds up on the track bar. He was ninth when he pitted.
● Harvick pitted on lap 195 for four tires, fuel and one round up on the track bar. Was the first car off pit road.
● He restarted third, but fell to fourth and was running there when third-place Kyle Busch’s car made contact with second-place Chase Elliott. The No. 9 of Elliott made contact with the SAFER Barrier on the inside wall and then rain starting falling which ended the race with Harvick back in third place.
● This was the first NASCAR Cup Series race to be held on a Wednesday in 36 years. The last time: July 4, 1984 when Richard Petty scored his 200th career victory at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
● Denny Hamlin won the Darlington 500k to score his 39th career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his second of the season and his third at Darlington.
● There were 11 caution periods for a total of 54 laps.
● Only 23 of the 39 drivers in the Darlington 500k finished on the lead lap.
● Harvick remains the championship leader after Darlington with a 34-point advantage over second-place Joey Logano.
● Harvick earned his fourth top-five and sixth top-10 of the season, and his 10th top-five and 14th top-10 in 25 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Darlington.
● Harvick is the only NASCAR Cup Series driver to have finished in the top-10 in all six races this season.
● This is Harvick’s third straight top-three. He finished second March 8 at Phoenix Raceway and won last Sunday at Darlington in The Real Heroes 400.
● This is Harvick’s fourth straight top-five and ninth straight top-10 at Darlington.
● Harvick has never finished outside the top-10 at Darlington since joining SHR in 2014, a streak that began with a win in the 2014 Southern 500.
● Harvick finished fifth in Stage 2 to earn six bonus points.
● Harvick led once for 10 laps to increase his laps-led total at Darlington to 750.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“We had to start 20th and battled kind of an ill-balanced car tonight. The track conditions were just a lot different. We made some adjustments going into the race. Just couldn’t get the front of the car to turn. Every time we tried to adjust the back, it would just take the back out. We never could get the front of the car to turn. Had to use a lot more throttle tonight. The things I could do with the car Sunday, I couldn’t do tonight. They kept clawing and fighting. In the end we had a great pit stop on the last pit stop, were in position to have a chance to win the race there, and it rained. The whole night we wound up restarting on the bottom of the racetrack. We’d lose three or four spots every time we’d restart. Definitely didn’t get the good end of the draw on the restarts. In the end our Mobil 1 guys did a great job of just battling. Sometimes you have great nights, sometimes you have nights you have to battle. It was a good two days in Darlington for us.”
The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday, May 24 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. The race starts at 6 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.