Kevin Harvick Dominates In Atlanta For 51st NASCAR Cup Series Winby Hunter Thomas June 7, 2020 0 comments
HAMPTON, Ga. – In typical dominating fashion on Sunday, Kevin Harvick won the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway after leading a race high of 151 laps.
Harvick is always stout at Atlanta Motor Speedway. In fact, his first NASCAR Cup Series win came at the track back in 2001; however, despite leading 1,348 laps at the mile-and-a-half track, Sunday’s win marked only his third in Atlanta.
“Obviously, first win came for me here at Atlanta and this is just a race track that I’ve taken a liking to, and you always come back and have those memories and now you want to celebrate everything that Dale Earnhardt did for this sport,” Harvick said. “To come here and be able to do that with wins and go to victory lane is pretty special, so I just have to thank everybody from Busch Light.”
The race that was originally scheduled to he be held back in March, but the COVID-19 pandemic rocked the world and NASCAR had to revamp its season schedule. Harvick started the race in the ninth position and led on four occasions throughout the afternoon. The 44-year-old driver of the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Busch Light For The Farmers Ford led the final 55 laps, holding Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. at bay to win his 51st career series victory.
“It was a battle today,” Harvick said. “The car didn’t really handle like we wanted it to most of the day. They made some great adjustments at the end of the race and were able to get the car right when it counted there at the end. Got the track position that we needed to get to the inside lane on the restart, and the car actually turned, and we were able to take the lead from Kyle and get the track position and then just start clicking off laps.”
Kyle Busch finished second on Sunday, capturing his sixth top-five finish of the season. The drive of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 M&M’s Fudge Brownie Toyota ran up front all afternoon long, but at the end of the 325-lap race, Busch’s car lost grip. He was able to pass Truex, but he wasn’t able to catch Harvick to challenge for the win.
“Every time I pushed too hard, it would really hurt my tires in the long run,” Busch said. “I think that was for everybody. That last run, I was trying to keep up with those front guys and as soon as I felt like I was pushing too hard and they were inching out on me, I just gave up and decided just to run and try to make sure I didn’t slip a tire and do the best I could without pushing anything too hard. Was able to get Martin at least there at the end. Can’t say enough about all my guys – Adam Stevens (crew chief) and everybody, they’re doing a really good job.”
Truex won both, Stages 1 and 2 on Sunday, but he had to settle for a third-place finish in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Auto Owners Insurance Toyota. Truex led 65 laps en route to his first top-five finish of the 2020 season.
“The last two or three runs there, we just got too tight. Not sure what happened,” Truex said. “The car was really good. The guys did a great job. Auto Owners Camry was fast all day. Got our first two stage wins of the year, which was huge. We just can’t seem to get over the hump at the finishes. With about 25 (laps) to go, I was clicking off some good lap times, but I knew I was pushing it too hard on the right front tire and with about 10 to go, it said, ‘oh hell no more.’ Just ran out of tires at the end and lost second to Kyle. I figured at that point, I could see the 4 (Kevin Harvick) and was just going to give it all I had and see if there was any opportunity, but he was just too good.
Rounding out the top-five was Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin. Kurt Busch finished sixth, followed by Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott and Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano.
There were no multicar accidents throughout the race and only two cautions for single-car spins. John Hunter Nemechek spun out of Turn 4 on lap 96, and his Front Row Motorsports teammate, Michael McDowell also spun in Turn 4 on lap 203.
As the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Martinsville Speedway, Harvick leads Logano in the standings by 48 points.
The Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway will be run under the lights on Wednesday, June 10 at 7 p.m. ET. Live coverage will broadcast on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN).
Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images