DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Kevin Harvick has won a lot of races by being just plain good. On Sunday night, he got a victory by being a little bit lucky.
The Stewart-Haas driver was running third and well off the lead in the Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway as the laps wound down to a finish. But with 15 laps to go, the two drivers in front of him -- Martin Truex, Jr. and Chase Elliott -- tangled and hit the wall as they battled for the lead.
Both had to pit, Harvick blew past and went on to collect his eighth victory of the season.
It was a big win as it came in the first race of the first round in the 10-race, 16-driver playoffs. That win guaranteed him a spot the second round -- the Round of 12, the next three-race bracket in the postseason.
Finishing second was Austin Dillon of Richard Childress Racing. The margin of victory was .343 seconds.
Third was Team Penske's Joey Logano.
Fourth was Erik Jones of Joe Gibbs Racing, who was the highest finisher among non-playoff qualifiers.
Fifth was playoff driver William Byron of Hendrick Motorsports.
The final laps appeared to be shaping up as a fight between Truex and Elliott, who had led 196 and 114 laps respectively.
Then came the wreck.
Also finishing in the top 10 among playoff qualifiers were Alex Bowman (sixth), Kyle Busch (seventh), Kurt Busch (eighth), Aric Almirola (ninth) and Clint Bowyer (10th).
Faring worst among playoffs drivers not name Truex or Elliott, was Team Penske's Ryan Blaney. His team was slapped with a penalty prior to the race after improperly mounted ballast was found in the No. 12 Ford. Blaney was sent to the rear of the field for the start of the race.
In addition, the team was docked 10 driver and owner points and crew chief Todd Gordon was ejected. Early in the second stage, Blaney had to pit under green with a flat tire and fell two laps off the pace.
He finished 24th.