Kevin Harvick fired the first shot in the NASCAR Playoffs by winning the Cook Out Southern 500 on Sunday, and is now one of the favorites to win this Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway. Harvick was a +270 favorite at Ladbrokes for the Cook Out Southern 500, and the second choice at William Hill at +225.
Harvick is again near the top of the betting board for the Federated Auto Parts 400. At DraftKings, he and Martin Truex Jr. are the 4/1 favorites, while at BetMGM, he and Denny Hamlin are the top choices at 4/1. At the Westgate, Harvick is the third pick at 4/1 behind Truex (3/1), and Hamlin (7/2).
Richmond is a racetrack where Harvick has won three times, but his last victory there came in 2013. His record at Richmond is solid, despite a gap in victories; he’s finished in the top 10 in nine of the last 11 races, and eight of those were fifth place or better.
Harvick Win Brings Momentum to Richmond
Harvick’s victory on Sunday was his eighth of the season. It also kept him in first in the NASCAR Playoffs.
“Anytime you can win the Southern 500 is a good day,” Harvick said after the race. “This is one of the most prestigious races in our sport, and this is one the most prestigious racetracks in our sport, so anytime you can win at Darlington it’s a big deal, but, man, Southern 500.”
The victory automatically advanced the 44-year-old to the round of 12 in the NASCAR Playoffs. The field will be cut from 16 to 12 in two weeks after the Bass Pro Shops Night Race.
One driver who narrowly missed locking himself into the next round is Austin Dillon. He entered Darlington ninth in the NASCAR Cup Playoff standings, and could have advanced to the next round with a victory. He finished second to Harvick.
“Man, it would have been nice to get that win and lock ourselves into the next round, but it was a heck of a finish for our entire No. 3 American Ethanol Chevrolet team,” Dillon said. “I’m proud of our second-place finish, especially after dropping to the rear of the field at the start of the race and recovering from that setback.”
Bowman Winner After Darlington
Dillon and Harvick weren’t the only drivers who did well for themselves at the Southern 500, as Alex Bowman positioned himself to move on to the round of 12.
Bowman did the most to improve his standing in the playoffs. He began the race in eighth place, but finished sixth, grabbing 43 points, the most beside Harvick. He shot up three spots in the playoff standings to fifth. Bowman told reporters the sixth-place finish was a bit disappointing.
“Sixth place isn’t terrible, but man we had a fast Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE tonight in Darlington,” Bowman said. “We had some issues on pit road that hurt us and we had to recover from that. I really feel like we were a car capable of winning. We just got buried there, but thankfully recovered from it.”
Despite the strong finish, Bowman is a distant 45/1 to Harvick for Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond.