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Kevin Harvick makes a late pass on Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the victory

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Kevin Harvick wins the 65th Annual Bojangles Southern 500 after leading the most laps from the pole. Harvick is the first repeat race winner of the 2014 season, and the first driver to win at Darlington Raceway from the pole since Dale Jarrett in 1997. This is Harvick’s first win at Darlington, the track with the nickname Too Tough to Tame or The Lady in Black.

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With two victories this season Harvick is now virtually guaranteeing one of the 16 spots in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion. Harvick has 25 victories in 474 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races and this is Harvick’s fifth race in which he led more than 200 laps; he led a race high of 238 laps of the 374 laps for tonight’s race at one point he had a 3.15 second advantage over second place.

“We had to overcome a lot over the past seven weeks, but we’ve had really fast cars. Harvick said in victory lane. “We just kept our heads down and did what we had to do,”

Since his victory at Phoenix International Raceway, Harvick has finished 36th or worst in four of the last five races. All during the race Harvick proved he had the car to beat leading for 7 different occasions during the race.

The two drivers who finished 42nd and 43rd last weekend at Texas finished 1st and 2nd this evening with Dale Earnhardt Jr. finishing 0.558 seconds behind Harvick. After an exciting duel attempt at a green-white-checkered finish, in which Harvick made the pass on Earnhardt Jr. on the high side coming out of Turn 4 taking the white flag.

“I needed those green-white-checkers,” said Harvick. “The last one was what I needed the most just for the fact I was able to get really good restarts and able to time the restarts really well and those guys (Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson) had older tires and were spinning the tires.”

Stewart-Haas Racing now has three victories, two with Harvick and one with Kurt Busch, which is a series high. Stewart-Haas Racing uses Hendrick Engines giving them four victories.

Earnhardt Jr. finished 2nd, his best ever finish at Darlington, with Johnson in third, Matt Kenseth finished fourth and Greg Biffle finished fifth. Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Larson, Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman round out the top ten for tonight’s Bojangles Southern 500.

Next week the NASCAR Sprint Cup series takes a break for the Easter holiday before the season recommences at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday, April 26, at 7:00 p.m. eastern time for the Toyota Owners 400 with Qualifying on Friday, April 25, at 5:00 p.m. eastern standard time televised on Fox Sports 1.

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