DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Two streaks ended on Saturday night at Darlington Raceway: Kevin Harvick's bad luck and NASCAR's most different winners to open a season in a decade.
Harvick, who had finished 36th or worse in four of five races since winning at Phoenix International Raceway last month, beat Dale Earnhardt Jr. with a pass in overtime to win the Bojangles' Southern 500 for his second victory of the season.
"Just didn't have enough tires, you know?" Earnhardt said. "Harvick had the best car in the end, and it was real hard to hold him off."
With the win, Harvick became NASCAR's first two-time winner this year after there had been seven different winners in the first seven Sprint Cup Series races.
Throughout the race, Harvick clearly had the fastest car – and there was no blown engine or parts failure this time to prevent him from winning. He led more than 240 laps and became the first polesitter since Dale Jarrett in 1997 to win a Darlington race.
It was the third win of the season for Stewart-Haas Racing – Harvick's teammate Kurt Busch won two weeks ago at Martinsville Speedway – which was a series high.
Harvick hadn't had much success at Darlington in the past. Before Saturday night, he'd led only 63 laps at Darlington in his 17-race career there. He'd finished in the top 10 only six times in that span.
Harvick seemed to be cruising to a runaway victory until Joey Logano had smoke coming from his car with 12 to go, bringing out a caution.
Crew chief Rodney Childers called for four tires, but Jimmie Johnson, Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon got off pit road ahead of Harvick thanks to two-tire stops.
That set up a five-lap shootout to determine the winner. Johnson got a good restart and pulled away from Harvick, but a debris caution two laps later forced the overtime finish.
On the first green-white-checkered, Earnhardt pulled ahead of Johnson and looked to have a shot at the win. But Kurt Busch wrecked before the field took the white flag, and walked up the track to stare down Clint Bowyer, who he fingered as the culprit.
Earnhardt took the green flag for the second green-white-checkered attempt, but Harvick passed him coming out of Turn 4 as the white flag waved.