Harvick Takes first race of the playoffs, 8th win of the season (9-7-20)

By: Becca Cottingham

Headline Photo Courtesy: Speedsport.com

By: Becca Cottingham-LegacyMaker Sports Network Head NASCAR Writer, Host of Monster Minutes

Tonight we head to the Lady in Black at Darlington Raceway for Throwback Sunday night racing. Denny Hamlin is communicating with his team about a possible issue before the green flag even dropped. Chase Elliott will lead us to green and will take the lead. We have racing all around the field, but so far Chase Elliott has led the way. We get to the competition caution and there is not much of a change in the top ten drivers. However, this is before the choose rule plays a roll. Martin Truex Jr comes up and starts battling Chase Elliott trying to get the lead. We have several drivers in the first fifty laps that have that special Darlington stripe. It is a little early to have this stripe, so many drivers and spotters will be watching for issues. The drivers are not the only ones throwing it back, but so is Goodyear with the blue stripes. Clint Bowyer is not a happy driver with his car even though he is running in the top fifteenth. Austin Dillon hit pit road early due to a possible tire issue. Brad Keselowski and Aric Almirola make contact and Brad ends up with a tire issue. Chase Elliot lost the lead and Kurt Busch will bring us back to the green. However, it did not take long for Martin Truex Jr to get out front. Martin Truex Jr will grab the first stage win at Darlington.

Martin Truex Jr brings us back to green while Ryan Blaney has tire issues. Kevin Harvick has also had issues being very loose. The battles have all happened behind Martin Truex Jr. Kevin Harvick came in early due to an ill handling car. Matt DiBeneditto is having major issues as well. Crew chiefs are having to keep their drivers calm for this long race. Seems like Bubba Wallace has an issue and brings out a caution. Kevin Harvick pitting early paid off and he made up some great ground. Ryan Blaney took the wave around and is back on the lead lap, and making up ground. Denny Hamlin has asked his crew chief how he can catch his teammate Martin Truex Jr to pass him. But Denny Hamlin just could not make up enough time which grants Martin Truex Jr stage two win.

Denny Hamlin brings us to the green flag to start the third and final stage. We see Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick in the top three. With Martin Truex Jr in between the two drivers. He has been very dominant tonight and is looking to get around Denny. John Hunter Nemechek hits the wall hard and ends his night. Kyle Busch made moves on pit road and made up multiple stops. He restarted stage three after John Hunter Nemechek’s accident battling for the lead. Teammates started one through three. It did not take long before Martin Truex Jr got back out front. We start to see green flag pit stops for fuel and tires with roughly eighty to go, this should allow drivers to go the rest of the race on fuel. Clint Bowyer had a tire coming apart. So many crew chiefs are making adjustments because of that tire. Denny Hamlin tried to get to pit road Jimmie Johnson get into the back of him because he cannot stay on the bottom. This leads to Kevin Harvick leading the race. We get sheet metal on the track with just under 50 to go. This brings just about everyone back down pit road for fresh tires. Martin Truex Jr and Chase Elliott’s get them out one and two. Chase manages to get in front of Martin. They battle and Martin Truex Jr had a huge run. He thought he was clear when he was just short. Both drivers have heavy damage with Kevin Harvick taking the lead. Austin Dillon has made it to the second position and with ten to go he is trying to drive down Kevin Harvick. A win would be huge for Austin Dillon. Kevin Harvick just had a little more in him than Austin. He will be our unofficial winner of Darlington.