This article is part of our NASCAR Barometer series.
Kevin Harvick won Sunday night's Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway becoming the first playoff driver to secure his spot in the next round of elimination races. Harvick did not have the fastest car in the race but he ran without mistakes and capitalized on the problems of others. Running behind the leaders in third place with less than 20 laps left in the race Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr. collided, leaving Harvick to pick up the pieces in a drive to the checkered flag. Austin Dillon mounted an exciting charge in the final laps to reach Harvick's bumper but ran out of distance as Harvick grabbed his third victory at the track and eighth total on the season.
The round of 16 continues this weekend in another night race, this time at Richmond International Raceway. This will be the first visit the series makes to the short track this season. Martin Truex Jr. won both races at the track last season. While Harvick can relax, knowing that his spot in the next round is secure, the other 15 championship contenders have more work to do.
Kevin Harvick – Harvick lurked deeper in the field through the first stages as he tuned his car for the conditions, progressively moving forward as the night went on. While he was running third late in the race, the two leading cars collided, leaving Harvick to inherit the lead and only needing to hold off Dillon for the win. The team did not