Kevin Harvick Continues Dominance at Atlanta

Kevin Harvick continues dominance in the NASCAR Cup Series, Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday.
HAMPTON, GEORGIA – JUNE 07: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Busch Light For The Farmers Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on June 07, 2020, in Hampton, Georgia. Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Kevin Harvick continues dominance in the NASCAR Cup Series, Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday.

In an exceptional relationship with Atlanta Motor Speedway, Kevin Harvick, the 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion showed that again Sunday afternoon winning the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500, his third victory at the historic track.

Martin Truex Jr and Kyle Busch with Strong Runs for Joe Gibbs Racing

Harvick led a race-high 151 of 325 laps en route to his 51st career win, prevailing in a mighty contest with Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., who finished second and third.

Truex led 62 laps, won the opening two stages of the race, and kept Harvick’s No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford honest. Harvick passed both JGR Toyotas to open the third stage of the race and held them at bay to win by a healthy 3.527-seconds. Busch passed Truex for second with five laps to go.

Harvick Keeps Points Lead in Second Victory of 2020

It is Harvick’s second victory of the season as he also won at Darlington Raceway, in NASCAR’s first race back since the sport was sidelined during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is also the 44-year old Californian’s ninth top-ten finish in ten races this year. Harvick extends his NASCAR Cup Series championship points lead to 48 points over Penske Racing’s Joey Logano. 

Other NASCAR Cup Series Championship Contenders

Logano’s teammate Ryan Blaney and JGR driver Denny Hamlin round out the top-five at Atlanta, followed by Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott, and Penske Racing teammates Brad Keselowski and Logano. For Kurt Busch, the top-ten was an especially impressive effort considering he started last in the field because of inspection violations.

Clint Bowyer led 58 laps only to have to pit late in the race and fall out of a top-ten finish.  He ended up 20th. 

Harvick’s Historic Relationship with Atlanta

Harvick’s Ford was considered the car to beat at Atlanta even before the retiring seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Johnson gave the command to start engines Sunday afternoon.

Harvick earned an emotional career first NASCAR Cup Series win at Atlanta back in 2001. It was just three weeks after taking over driving duties for the late seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt, who was killed in the Daytona 500 season-opener. Harvick held up three fingers in a reverse victory lap on Sunday, in honor of Earnhardt and the champ’s famed No. 3 car.

“First [career] win came for me here at Atlanta and this is just a race track that I’ve taken a liking to,’’ Harvick said. “You always have those memories and now you want to celebrate everything that Dale Earnhardt did for this sport. To come here and be able to do that with wins and go to victory lane is pretty special.

“We had a great pit stop, got to restart on the bottom and got my car to take off and I was able to get track position. Once I could get through those first ten laps and my car was freed up enough I could get in a rhythm and really hit my marks, then with about 25 laps I could just drive away.’’

Harvick has certainly been the driver of record as of late. He answered that first win 17 years later in 2018 and is now in the midst of an amazing nine-year run at the track. He’s led at least 100 laps in seven of the last nine races, which is more than 10,000 laps out front since joining the Stewart-Haas Racing team in 2014. Plus, he’s earned top-ten finishes in nine of the last 11 races.

Potential Triumph for Truex and Reddick the Top Rookie

Truex Jr.’s two stages wins were the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion’s first of the season. For much of the race, he was there ready to interrupt Harvick’s longtime dominance at the track. That opportunity, however, never came.

It would have been the first win of the season for Truex, who has been so-close at Atlanta, finishing second in 2019 and scoring top-ten finishes in the last six races.

Tyler Reddick, the driver of the No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, was the top finishing Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate – with a 16th-place finish.

Steve Phelps Pledges NASCAR Commitment

Before the race, NASCAR President Steve Phelps addressed the race field and the nation pledging that the sport is sensitive to the country’s current social unrest and committed to improving race relations.

“Our country is in pain and our people are justifiably angry, demanding to be heard,’’ Phelps said. “Our sport must do better. Our country must do better.’’

Next Up for the NASCAR Cup Series

The NASCAR Cup Series races next in the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). 

NASCAR Cup Series Race – 61st Annual Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500

Atlanta Motor Speedway

Hampton, Georgia

Sunday, June 7, 2020

               1. (9)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 325.

               2. (4)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 325.

               3. (11)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 325.

               4. (7)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 325.

               5. (10)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 325.

               6. (12)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 325.

               7. (15)  Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 325.

               8. (1)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 325.

               9. (6)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 325.

               10. (3)  Joey Logano, Ford, 325.

               11. (16)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 324.

               12. (8)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 324.

               13. (22)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 324.

               14. (17)  Ryan Newman, Ford, 324.

               15. (19)  Matt Kenseth, Chevrolet, 324.

               16. (24)  Tyler Reddick #, Chevrolet, 324.

               17. (2)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 324.

               18. (27)  Christopher Bell #, Toyota, 324.

               19. (31)  Cole Custer #, Ford, 324.

               20. (5)  Clint Bowyer, Ford, 324.

               21. (23)  Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 324.

               22. (13)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 324.

               23. (18)  John Hunter Nemechek #, Ford, 324.

               24. (36)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 324.

               25. (21)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 324.

               26. (29)  Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 323.

               27. (25)  Corey LaJoie, Ford, 323.

               28. (14)  Erik Jones, Toyota, 322.

               29. (28)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 322.

               30. (33)  Brennan Poole #, Chevrolet, 321.

               31. (37)  Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 316.

               32. (35)  Quin Houff #, Chevrolet, 314.

               33. (20)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 313.

               34. (32)  Josh Bilicki(i), Ford, 313.

               35. (34)  Garrett Smithley(i), Chevrolet, 312.

               36. (30)  JJ Yeley(i), Chevrolet, 311.

               37. (40)  Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 310.

               38. (26)  Joey Gase(i), Ford, 308.

               39. (38)  Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, Electrical, 259.

               40. (39)  BJ McLeod(i), Chevrolet, Clutch, 3.

Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Stats

Average Speed of Race Winner:  142.966 mph.

Time of Race:  Three Hrs, 30 Mins, Three Secs. The Margin of Victory:  3.527 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  Five for 24 laps.

Lead Changes:  21 among nine drivers.

Lap Leaders:   C. Elliott 1-26;B. Keselowski 27;J. Logano 28-36;K. Harvick 37-65;M. Truex Jr. 66-68;K. Busch 69;K. Harvick 70-86;M. Truex Jr. 87-108;C. Bowyer 109-113;M. Truex Jr. 114;C. Bowyer 115-146;M. Truex Jr. 147-159;B. Keselowski 160-163;C. Bowyer 164-184;M. Truex Jr. 185-203;K. Busch 204-206;M. Truex Jr. 207-213;K. Busch 214-217;K. Harvick 218-267;R. Blaney 268-269;J. Logano 270;K. Harvick 271-325.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Kevin Harvick four times for 151 laps; Martin Truex Jr. six times for 65 laps; Clint Bowyer three times for 58 laps; Chase Elliott one time for 26 laps; Joey Logano two times for ten laps; Kyle Busch two times for seven laps; Brad Keselowski two times for five laps; Ryan Blaney one time for two laps; Kurt Busch one time for one lap.

Stage 1 Top-Ten: 19,18,14,11,4,9,47,20,48,12

Stage 2 Top-Ten: 19,12,18,11,9,4,21,2,14,48