NASCAR at Atlanta results, standings: Kevin Harvick dominates in first win of 2018
Harvick is set to join Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs
Kevin Harvick showed off ridiculous speed on Sunday to win his first Cup Series race of the season at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Harvick set the pace all day, leading the most laps (173) to clinch his spot in the NASCAR Playoffs.
The win was Harvick's second at the track in the Cup Series. Harvick dominated Saturday's Xfinity Series race in similar fashion, winning that one as well. In addition to the checkered flag, the No. 4 driver has now led over 100 laps in six of his last seven races at the 1.5-mile track.
Harvick easily won Stage 1, building nearly a five-second lead over the rest of the field when he took the green-and-white checkered. Brad Keselowski took home Stage 2 after a strong restart with 11 to go. Although Harvick had the speed to win the second mid-race stage, he spun the tires on that same restart and finished the stage fifth.
The race was met with postponements and delays as rainstorms moved through the area around the track. Earlier in the week, NASCAR moved the start time up by an hour, and after a 2.5-hour delay, the cars got to rolling off pit road. Contrary to forecasts that the race couldn't be completed in time, the rain held off long enough for it to be held in its entirety.
Folds of Honor QuikTrip500 results
- Kevin Harvick
- Brad Keselowski
- Clint Bowyer
- Denny Hamlin
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Joey Logano
- Kyle Busch
- Kurt Busch
- Kyle Larson
- Chase Elliott
- Erik Jones
- Ryan Blaney
- Aric Almirola
- Austin Dillon
- Daniel Suarez
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
- Paul Menard
- William Byron
- Jamie McMurray
- Alex Bowman
- Kasey Kahne
- Ryan Newman
- David Ragan
- Michael McDowell
- Chris Buescher
- Ty Dillon
- Jimmie Johnson
- Cole Whitt
- AJ Allmendinger
- Ross Chastain
- Matt DiBenedetto
- Darrell Wallace Jr.
- Harrison Rhodes
- Jeffrey Earnhardt
- Trevor Bayne
- Gray Gaulding
2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular season standings
BOLD - indicates the driver has clinched a spot in the playoffs
Martin Truex Jr.
Darrell Wallace Jr.
Miss any of the action or want to relive the race day experience? We've got you covered with all the highlights and analysis in our live blog below.
Stage 1: Kevin Harvick shows off dominant speed
Kyle Busch led the field to green after a near 2.5-hour delay but was passed by Ryan Newman on the first lap. While Newman held the lead, 2017 Cup champion Martin Truex Jr. climbed his way into the top 10 after starting from the rear of the field. Busch regained the lead briefly about 20 laps in before being passed by Kevin Harvick.
The competition caution came out on lap 30 to allow the field to come in and change tires. By rule, NASCAR can institute a competition caution for races that are impacted by weather. It couldn't have come at a better time for the drivers either, as most of their tires were completely worn out when the yellow flew. For Jeffrey Earnhardt's tires, 30 laps proved to be too much.
Harvick held the lead on the restart and continued to build it as Truex climbed into second place. Stewart-Haas Racing's Clint Bowyer hopped into second place with 11 to go in the stage. Newman was forced to pit with less than 5 to go in the stage after his right-front tire went down.
Stage 1 results
- Kevin Harvick (10 points plus 1 playoff point)
- Clint Bowyer (9 points)
- Brad Keselowski (8 points)
- Martin Truex Jr. (7 points)
- Aric Almirola (6 points)
- Kyle Busch (5 points)
- Kyle Larson (4 points)
- Kurt Busch (3 points)
- Denny Hamlin (2 points)
- Joey Logano (1 point)
Stage 2: Harvick overcomes pit woes; Keselowski secures strong restart
NASCAR's youth movement suffered a barrage of penalties during the mid-stage pit stops. Alex Bowman was caught for speeding, Ryan Blaney had a member of his pit crew come over the wall too soon and Erik Jones ran over an air hose. However the story under yellow revolved around Harvick who posted an 18-second stop before coming back down pit road to tighten the lug nuts.
Brad Keselowski led the field to green after winning the race off pit road. Kurt Busch cycled to the lead moments later as Harvick moved back up the field. Harvick showed off his speed and eventually regained the lead 40 laps into the stage. Moments after Harvick cycled back to the front, the field started coming down pit road for green flag stops. Kyle Busch opted to stay out longer than the rest of the leaders, which didn't prove to be the right move. The No. 18 lost roughly seven seconds of track position.
While Harvick continued to cruise, Jimmie Johnson went spinning with 11 laps to go in the stage to bring out the first crash-related caution of the day. The wreck put Johnson out of contention, adding to the seven-time champion's career-long 25-race winless drought.
Keselowski won the race off pit road and got out to a strong lead after Harvick spun his tires on the restart. The No. 2 was able to hold the lead en route to a green-and-white checkered flag.
Stage 2 results
- Brad Keselowski (10 points plus 1 playoff point)
- Kurt Busch (9 points)
- Kyle Busch (8 points)
- Joey Logano (7 points)
- Kevin Harvick (6 points)
- Denny Hamlin (5 points)
- Kyle Larson (4 points)
- Aric Almirola (3 points)
- Clint Bowyer (2 points)
- Daniel Suarez (1 point)
Final Stage: Harvick slams the door on competition
Kurt Busch won the race off pit road to begin the Final Stage and got off to a hot start. As rain began creeping back into the area, Keselowski and Harvick closed the gap with Keselowski taking the lead from Busch. The No. 41 fell back a couple seconds behind the No. 2 with Harvick continuing his pursuit.
Harvick nearly took the lead from Keselowski as the two came up on lapped traffic, but the two teams decided to throw their battle to the side for a moment to come down pit road under green. Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano stayed out while the leaders came into the pits with hopes that the rain would come quicker than expected, however the two eventually caved and came down pit road.
The gamble may not have been as questionable as some thought. Despite Harvick cycling back to a massive lead, on the next round of pit stops Hamlin and Logano were able to stay out and reclaim their spot in the front of the field for a short period of time. Harvick passed both of them with 59 to go.
Since Hamlin and Logano stayed out so long the first time around, their strategy enabled them to make one less pit stop than the others. Hamlin cycled back to the lead with 35 to go but Harvick proved to be too fast, taking it away from him just 2 laps later.
Just when it seemed Harvick was going to run away with it, Trevor Bayne's No. 6 blew up to bring out the caution. Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr. and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. made heavy contact when driving through the smoke from Bayne's Ford.
Harvick got off to a great restart as Keselowski and Bowyer trailed in the rearview. None of the drivers were able to get close to Harvick's bumper as he easily drove on for the victory.
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