Home » FEATURE STORY, NASCAR

Harvick Busts Atlanta Motor Speedway Slump

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, February 25 2018

Kevin Harvick won at Atlanta for the first time in 17 years on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Andrew Coppley)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

It took Kevin Harvick 17 years to get his second NASCAR Cup Series victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway but when he secured that win on Sunday, it came with considerable ease and a bit of emotion.

Harvick, whose first win at AMS came in his first race after taking the driver’s seat from the deceased Dale Eanhardt Sr. in 2001, beat runner-up Brad Keselowski to the finish line by seconds 2.6 seconds.

“That was the first win of my career,” Harvick said of the 2001 victory and who saluted Earnhardt by flashing three fingers on the cool-down lap on Sunday, said. “To be able to do that and pay tribute to Dale was pretty cool. I’ve been waiting a long time to do that.

“Good to be back in victory lane (in Atlanta). Finally. It took a while.”

Keselowski said of Harvick, who led 173 of 325 laps, “Kevin man, he was just in a league of his own and deserves a lot of credit for that. We just didn’t have enough.”

Finishing third in the race, the start of which was delayed several hours by rain, was Harvick’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, Clint Bowyer.

Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing finished fourth and defending series champion Martin Truex Jr. was fifth.

Harvick, who dominated Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at AMS, won the first of the Cup event’s three stages and Keselowski the second.

Keselowski was leading and holding steady against second place Harvick when they pitted with just over 110 laps to go. Harvick, who pitted a lap earlier than Kenselowski, took back the lead after the pitting had cycled through. That lead was over 3 seconds.

With 75 laps to go, Harvick’s lead was almost 10 seconds over Keselowski.

On that lap, green flag stops began for all the lead-lap cars other than those of Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano and Chase Elliott who were pitting out of sequence.

With 60 laps to go, Harvick took the lead from Hamlin but in need of two more green-flag pit stops to Hamlin’s and Logano’s one.

Hamlin and Logano pitted with 51 laps to go.

Up at the front of the field, Harvick stretched his lead to 10 seconds over Keselowski with 47 laps to go.

They both pitted with 38 laps to go. That gave the lead back to Hamlin but with 35 laps to go, Harvick passed Hamlin and was not seriously challenged again.

A yellow flag with 28 laps to go gave the field hope, but on the restart, which came with 21 laps to go, Harvick was perfect. With 15 laps to go, Harvick’s lead was 1.4 seconds. With eight to go, the lead was 3 seconds and the race was all but over.

###

Logano took over the series lead by six points over Ryan Blaney, who finished 12th. Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon was 14th, the first driver one lap down.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race – Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500

Atlanta Motor Speedway

Hampton, Georgia

Sunday, February 25, 2018

  1. (3) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 325.
  2. (5) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 325.
  3. (9) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 325.
  4. (12) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 325.
  5. (35) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 325.
  6. (16) Joey Logano, Ford, 325.
  7. (1) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 325.
  8. (7) Kurt Busch, Ford, 325.
  9. (8) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 325.
  10. (27) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 325.
  11. (10) Erik Jones, Toyota, 325.
  12. (26) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 325.
  13. (11) Aric Almirola, Ford, 325.
  14. (25) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 324.
  15. (4) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 324.
  16. (6) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 324.
  17. (15) Paul Menard, Ford, 324.
  18. (23) William Byron #, Chevrolet, 323.
  19. (13) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 323.
  20. (18) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 322.
  21. (14) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 322.
  22. (2) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 322.
  23. (29) David Ragan, Ford, 321.
  24. (17) Michael McDowell, Ford, 321.
  25. (24) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 321.
  26. (28) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 321.
  27. (22) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 321.
  28. (32) Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 320.
  29. (21) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 320.
  30. (34) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 319.
  31. (30) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 319.
  32. (19) Darrell Wallace Jr. #, Chevrolet, 319.
  33. (36) Harrison Rhodes, Chevrolet, 310.
  34. (33) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 305.
  35. (20) Trevor Bayne, Ford, Engine, 292.
  36. (31) Gray Gaulding Jr., Toyota, Steering, 99.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  143.068 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 29 Mins, 54 Secs. Margin of Victory:  2.690 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  5 for 28 laps.

Lead Changes:  24 among 8 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   Kyle Busch 0; R. Newman 1-17; Kyle Busch 18-20; K. Harvick 21-31; Kyle Busch 32; K. Harvick 33-88; M. Truex Jr. 89; B. Keselowski 90-100; Kurt Busch 101-125; K. Harvick 126-127; Kyle Busch 128-131; K. Harvick 132-159; Kurt Busch 160; B. Keselowski 161-172; Kurt Busch 173-198; B. Keselowski 199-213; Kyle Busch 214; D. Hamlin 215-225; K. Harvick 226-252; D. Hamlin 253-265; K. Harvick 266-288; D. Hamlin 289-290; K. Harvick 291-299; J. Logano 300; K. Harvick 301-325.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  K. Harvick 8 times for 181 laps; Kurt Busch 3 times for 52 laps; B. Keselowski 3 times for 38 laps; D. Hamlin 3 times for 26 laps; R. Newman 1 time for 17 laps; Kyle Busch 4 times for 9 laps; J. Logano 1 time for 1 lap; M. Truex Jr. 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 4,14,2,78,10,18,42,41,11,22

Stage #2 Top Ten: 2,41,18,22,4,11,42,10,14,19

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, February 25 2018
No Comment

Comments are closed.