In one of the most entertaining races of the year thus far from the world-famous Darlington Raceway, it was Kevin Harvick and the No. 4 car that took the checkered flag and won the 2014 Bojangles' Southern 500.
Harvick was tough enough to tame The Lady in Black.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 88 team managed an impressive run and were leading heading into the final green-white-checkered flags, but they couldn’t hold off the stronger Harvick. Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team finished third, Matt Kenseth and the No. 20 team finished fourth, and Greg Biffle and the No. 16 team rounded out the top five.
With only one race ran at the historical Darlington track per season now, NASCAR fans savor this event.
|Full 2014 Bojangles' Southern 500 Results|
|2||Dale Earnhardt Jr.|
|20||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.|
|27||Martin Truex Jr.|
Harvick and his team started the race on the pole, and they looked good as anyone heading into the night race.
One car that wasn’t strong to start the event was Johnson. After struggling with the handling of his car early, the team worked on the car and had him back in contention. Johnson managed an impressive third-place finish.
It was a rough night for the rookies who were forced to learn about Darlington the hard way. Young stars like Ryan Truex, Michael Annett and Cole Whitt had trouble in the first half of the race—on top of the trouble Kyle Larson faced in practice—and the unique track proved once again why it is so intriguing.
The race was relatively calm through the first 200 laps as the field kept relatively steady through several early issues from non-contenders, but a caution on Lap 225 shook up the field as Harvick and the top contenders were shuffled back in the pack.
Once the green flag fell again, drivers with cars performing best like Harvick, Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon all began to filter back to their rightful position at the front of the field. Harvick had retaken the lead with just under 100 laps left when yet another caution came out.
After another round of pit stops, Harvick took the lead at the green flag. The No. 4 car was chased down by the No. 88, but it was ultimately Gordon that proved to be the biggest threat to the victory.
Johnson was able to make a late run at the lead after Gordon failed to take the lead, but Harvick proved that his car was the class of the field this week. After so much adversity early in the season, the Budweiser car finally got the win the team deserved.
|2014 NASCAR Sprint Series Standings|
|4||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||271|
After another great race at Darlington Raceway, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule moves on as drivers and their teams head to the Richmond International Raceway in two weeks for the Toyota Owners 400.
The next race will take place on Saturday, April 26, at 7 p.m. ET and will be televised on Fox.
Harvick was the 2013 race champion and will be looking for back-to-back wins. The No. 4 team suffered technical issues throughout the start of the season, and this victory may be enough to get his team heading in the right direction.
Add in the talent of the Hendricks Motorsports team—Earnhardt, Johnson and Gordon are all legitimate championship contenders—and the race under the lights at Richmond should make for one of the most exciting races of the season.
With plenty of scores left to be settled, there is no better place to get revenge than on a short track like Richmond.
*All stats via NASCAR.com.