Kevin Harvick’s Atlanta victory in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500, lifts him to second NASCAR Cup Series victory of the season.
Coming off the race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee a week ago, the NASCAR Cup Series headed to Georgia’s Atlanta Motor Speedway for Sunday’s race. The 1.54-mile track is known for rough pavement and fast speeds. Similar to Auto Club Speedway, the pit window is cut down because tire wear shows up quickly.
The First Stage
Chase Elliott held the pole and was able to jump out to a nice lead. He led up to the competition caution on lap 25. All drivers came down pit road for servicing and Joey Logano won the race off pit road.
Logano jumped to the bottom on the restart, but it was Kevin Harvick who followed him and made an early pass for the lead. The field fell into a single file with Harvick at the point. He was the first to come to pit road for green-flag pit stops.
He was able to cycle back into the lead, but Martin Truex Jr. was applying heavy pressure. Truex Jr. had a great pit stop and decreased Harvick’s lead to within striking distance. Truex Jr. had a run on Harvick and was able to pass him easily.
Shortly after the lead change, a late caution came out with John Hunter Nemechek spinning out. After pitting under the caution, Martin Truex Jr. was able to regain the lead and win the first stage with no issues.
The Second Stage
During the stage break, Clint Bowyer won the race off pit road and brought the field to the green flag. Bowyer was able to take control of the second stage, jumping out front and never looking back. However, Bowyer was having a problem with his right rear tire for most of the day. He took an early pit stop under the green flag to change tires. It was about ten laps before everyone else stopped.
Clint Bowyer was able to cycle back into the lead but was not on fresh tires anymore. Martin Truex Jr. was able to sail past Bowyer. With eight laps remaining, a caution came out when Michael McDowell lost control of his car.
Kyle Busch won the race off pit road, but Truex Jr. beat him on the late restart. Martin Truex Jr. wins stage two.
The Third Stage
The last stage of the race ran caution-free and was all about Kevin Harvick. He beat Kyle Busch on the restart without thinking twice as every lap, his lead kept increasing. Harvick was able to cycle back into the lead after green flag stops and focus on the long run to end the race. With no other challengers, Kevin Harvick was able to win the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.
The race overall was a toss-up between Martin Truex Jr and Kevin Harvick. Truex Jr. looked strong in the first half of the race, seeming as though he would sweep the stages and run away with the win, just as he has so many times in the past.
Once Harvick returned to lead in the third stage, however, it was over. No one could catch him with such a dominant lead over his competitors. Kevin Harvick’s Atlanta victory is his second win of the season and his third at the track along with 15 top-ten finishes. Atlanta Motor Speedway holds a fond spot in Harvick’s heart since winning his first race at the Georgia track. Every time the Cup Series returns, he’s usually in contention for another victory.