Photo by: Jared C. Tilton
It took Kevin Harvick 17 years to return to Victory Lane at Atlanta Motor Speedway, home of the 2014 champion’s first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory.
Harvick was dominate once again at the 1.54-mile track. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver led 181 of 325 laps as well as finishing almost three seconds ahead of second place, Brad Keselowski.
Just like in 2001, Harvick held three fingers out the window of his No. 4 Jimmy Johns Ford to pay tribute to the late Dale Earnhardt.
“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 overcame early pit road problems when pit gun issues forced the driver to return to double check all the lugnuts before returning to competition.
Harvick started the second stage of the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 in the 16th position on Lap 94. 32 laps later, Harvick passed teammate Kurt Busch for the lead.
Jimmie Johnson brought out the first caution for an incident on Lap 160. The 7-time champion blew a tire that caused him to spin in Turn 2. The Hendrick Motorsports driver sustained significant damage to his Lowe’s for Pros Chevrolet. He finished in the 27th position, four laps down.
Trevor Bayne blew an engine late in the event on Lap 297, leaving a cloud of smoke in his rear view. The smoke left rookie Bubba Wallace blinded, ultimately running into the back of Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Five Fords finished inside the top 10. Brad Keselowski finished second, Clint Bowyer third, while Joey Logano and Busch finished sixth and eighth, respectively.
Logano takes the series points lead after the second race of the season, six points over teammate Ryan Blaney.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series head to Las Vegas for the first of three events on the West Coast on March 4, 2018.
Martin Truex Jr. dominated in 2017, winning each stage, and passing Brad Keselowski in the final laps for his first Cup victory in Sin City.
Don’t miss Truex attempt to defend his victory on Sunday, March 4th at 3:30 p.m ET on FOX.