Tag Archives: Atlanta

Kevin Harvick Finds Victory Lane in Atlanta After 17 Years

(Courtesy: NASCAR Media)

HAMPTON, Ga. – On Sunday night, after 17 barren years, Kevin Harvick finally completed the second chapter of his love affair with Atlanta Motor Speedway. 

HAMPTON, GA – FEBRUARY 25: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Ford, crosses the finish line to win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 25, 2018 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

In the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500, the second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race of the season, Harvick delivered a proper thrashing to the rest of the field, leading 181-of-325 laps and beating runner-up Brad Keselowski to the finish line by 2.690 seconds. 

Early in 2001, after Dale Earnhardt Sr. died in a last-lap crash in the Daytona 500, Harvick was thrust prematurely into a replacement role that would have cowed most rookies. Three weeks later, he notched his first Cup victory in a photo finish (.006 seconds) over Jeff Gordon. 

Harvick’s career victory total reached 38 on Sunday with his relentless performance at the 1.54-mile speedway, ending a frustrating drought that featured blinding speed foiled by ill fortune and inopportune mistakes.  

Afterwards, in his victory celebration, Harvick gave a “3” salute to Earnhardt, a tribute he had waited years to perform. 

“I’m just so proud of everybody on our team,” Harvick said. “That was the first win in my career (in 2001), and to be able to do that and pay tribute to Dale was pretty cool. I’ve been waiting a long time to do that… 

“I love racing here, and it’s good to be back in Victory Lane – finally. It took a while.” 

Harvick had led the most laps in the last four Monster Energy events at Atlanta, but victory continued to elude him. Nor was the road to Sunday’s win free of obstacles. 

On Harvick’s second pit stop, after his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford had dominated the race’s first stage, the air hose blew off the coupler of the pit gun wielded by the front tire changer Daniel Smith, and Harvick had to return to pit road to make sure his lug nuts were tight. 

No problem. Harvick restarted 16th on Lap 94 to begin Stage 2. On Lap 126, he passed teammate Kurt Busch for the lead. 

Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano tried divergent strategies, opting for a two-pit-stop strategy, instead of the typical three, over the last stage of the race. After Harvick came off pit road on Lap 289, Hamlin held a 1.819-second second advantage. 

HAMPTON, GA – FEBRUARY 25: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 25, 2018 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

Harvick brushed the ploy aside as easily as swatting a fly. On Lap 291 he passed Hamlin for the lead and took off. Ultimately, Hamlin finished fourth and Logano sixth. 

Harvick was out front by more than four seconds when Trevor Bayne’s engine blew in Turn 2 on Lap 297, trailing a thick cloud of smoke that covered the corner and left Daytona 500 runner-up Bubba Wallace driving blind into the back of Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s Ford. 

On the subsequent restart on Lap 305, Harvick simply drove away, stretching his lead to nearly four seconds over the final 21 laps before easing up as he approached the finish line. 

“It was great getting into this race car and knowing that everybody knew that they had to beat our car,” Harvick said. “I’m just really, really happy with everything that we’ve done at Stewart-Haas Racing over the last five years, and this is a great start to getting ourselves in the Playoffs and doing everything that we need to do.  

“We overcame a lot of things today. We got a late-race restart that we drove off and won the race with, so there are so many demons that seem to haunt us here for a long time, but the coolest part was being able to try to replicate that first win celebration.” 

SHR teammate Clint Bowyer finished third, putting Fords in all three podium positions. Martin Truex Jr. charged forward from a 35th-place starting position to run fifth. Logano, pole winner Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott completed the top 10. 

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.

Harvick Dominates For Atlanta Xfinity Series Win

(Courtesy: NASCAR Media)

HAMPTON, GA – FEBRUARY 24: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #98 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series Rinnai 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 24, 2018 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

HAMPTON, Ga. – Kevin Harvick put on a driving clinic in Saturday’s Rinnai 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. 

The driver of the No. 98 Ford dominated the action on the track, leading 141-of-163 laps and winning both stages before taking the checkered flag 4.183 seconds ahead of runner-up Joey Logano. 

Harvick collected his fifth NASCAR XFINITY Series victory at Atlanta and the 47th of his career. He has won four of the last six events at the 1.54-mile track, where he also has won for four different car owners, tying Tony Stewart for the distinction of winning for four different owners at a single track. 

Atlanta continues to be a special track for Harvick, who earned his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory here in 2001, after succeeding the late Dale Earnhardt in the Intimidator’s vaunted Richard Childress racing ride. 

“It’s just been a really good place for me, obviously getting my first Cup win here,” Harvick said. “We’ve run good cars throughout the years, and the race track has stayed very similar to what it’s been for a number of years. 

“And I think, as you look at the techniques and the things that I do in the car – and they give me what I want in the car, as far as the feel – it just applies here.” 

Harvick’s pit crew got into the act, too, pulling off a stop in 14.4 seconds under NASCAR’s new rules that have reduced the size of the over-the-wall crew to five members. That same crew pits Harvick’s No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Cup car on Sundays. 

“The good thing is they’ve had a lot of reps,” Harvick said. “We’ve had Clash reps, reps in the qualifying race, the Daytona 500, and they pitted on Saturday last week. They pitted on Saturday this week, and they’re just doing a really good job. 

“Those guys are pretty athletic, and they practice hard and have done a great job over the last couple years of getting this car off pit road. As long as I don’t screw it up going too fast, they do really well making the pit stops.” 

Behind Harvick and Logano, pole winner Christopher Bell ran third, followed by John Hunter Nemechek, who scored a fourth-place finish in his NASCAR XFINITY Series debut. Elliott Sadler (fifth), Justin Allgaier (sixth) and Austin Cindric (seventh) were the only other drivers on the lead lap when Harvick crossed the stripe for the last time. 

“I don’t think we were even close,” Logano said. “Kevin played with us all day long.” 

Nemechek ran into early trouble on the bottom of the track and early trouble on the top. On Lap 7, Harvick bulled his way past Nemechek, who had just taken over third place. Nemechek’s No. 42 Chevrolet turned sideways after the contact, but he managed to save the car off Turn 4. 

Three laps later, Cole Custer cut to the inside of Nemechek in a battle for fifth as the cars entered the tri-oval. Nemechek slid to the top of the track, right into the path of Elliott Sadler, who had exited Turn 4 with enormous momentum. 

A tap from Sadler turned Nemechek’s car into the No. 00 Ford of Custer, who nosed into the outside wall and damaged his machine beyond repair. 

“It looks like the 42 got out of shape, and then the 1 (Sadler) had a run, and he didn’t hit the brakes hard enough and he hit the 42, and the 42 hit me,” Custer said after viewing the replay.  

“We just got collected in something, and there’s not much we could do. We had a pretty good car and was just kind of riding at that point, but, I don’t know. We’ll go on to the next one.” 

“I’ve got to apologize to Cole Custer,” Nemechek said after climbing from his car. “I never meant to get into him off (Turn) 4 there. I got tagged from behind.”