Tha Sports Junkies 101

Kevin Harvick Dominates Atlanta, Breaks 17 Year Drought

Photo by NASCARMedia


With a threat of rain all day Sunday, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series took to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Folds of Honor Quiktrip 500. After leading 180 of 334 laps, Kevin Harvick won for the second time in Atlanta, breaking a 17-year drought.

As stated in an article posted earlier this week, Kevin Harvick has been dominant in Atlanta each of the past 5 years, without a win. 2017 was especially bitter, as Harvick led 292 laps before getting busted by a pit road speeding penalty.

Early Race Highlights

Kyle Busch started the race on the pole. However, Ryan Newman led the first 18 laps after starting second. Busch would gain the lead for a few laps, but Harvick motored his way by Busch on lap 21. Harvick would lead until the competition caution on lap 30, where Busch regained the lead through pit stops. Busch’s lead was short-lived though, as Harvick would pass him again to win Stage 1.

Late in Stage 2 on lap 159, Jimmie Johnson spun off of turn 2 to bring out a caution. Johnson is now in a winless streak that is the longest of his career. Johnson’s teammates William Byron and Alex Bowman also had their share of struggles throughout the race. After the abbreviated yellow flag, Brad Keselowski won Stage 2.

The race’s final stage opened with 120 laps of nonstop green flag racing. This segment of the race was dominated by Ford drivers, as Harvick, Keselowski, and Kurt Busch all led. It was at this time that an imminent rain threat was issued to the drivers, but the rain would hold off for the remainder of the race.

Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano both attempted to run the race on 1 less pit stop than Harvick. This strategy call saw Hamlin and Logano briefly leapfrog Harvick. In the end, neither strategy was the winning move.

Late Race Recap

The final caution came out with 28 laps to go when Trevor Bayne lost an engine. Bubba Wallace and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. both were damaged by contact in this melee.

The race resumed with 21 laps remaining. On the restart, Harvick cleared Keselowski, who spun his tires. The race was on from there, as Harvick cruised to victory lane. After the race, an emotional Harvick emulated his Atlanta victory celebration from 2001, holding up 3 fingers to salute Dale Earnhardt.

The top 10 finishers were Harvick, Keselowski, Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson, and Chase Elliott.

This win marks the 38th of Harvick’s career, his first of 2018, and his 16th for Stewart-Haas Racing. Along with Austin Dillon, Kevin Harvick is now in the 2018 NASCAR Playoffs. This win also comes a day after Harvick dominated the Xfinity Series race.

The next race for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will be the Pennzoil 400 from Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Coverage will begin on Sunday, March 4 at 3:30 PM EST on Fox, PRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.