Harvick leads Ford 1-2-3 in Atlanta

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Monday 26th February, 2018 - 1:55pm

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Kevin Harvick

Kevin Harvick has taken a comprehensive victory in NASCAR’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta as Fords locked out the top three.

Harvick (#4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) led 181 of the 325 laps and took the chequered flag with a relatively comfortable margin over Brad Keselowski (#2 Team Penske Ford) and team-mate Clint Bowyer (#14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford).

Starting third, Harvick’s first spell in the lead came in the 10 laps to the Competition Caution at Lap 30, and he headed the field for all but one lap from then until the end of Stage 1 after 85 laps.

The 42-year-old began Stage 2 with two pit stops in quick succession after a problem with the air hose during the first one, taking the restart in 19th.

Keselowski held first position at the restart before being passed by Kurt Busch (#41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) on Lap 100.

Harvick, however, was making handy work of his recovery and got back into the lead at the start of Lap 126.

Kyle Busch (#18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) enjoyed a four-lap run at the front as the field cycled through the pits again, but the #4 Ford was back on top on Lap 132.

Harvick stayed there until the first unscheduled Caution on Lap 160, when Jimmie Johnson’s frustrating start to the season continued with a right-front tyre failure which pitched the #48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet into a spin at Turn 2.

That yellow proved pivotal in the Stage 2 outcome with Keselowski out of pit lane first and maintaining that position until stage-end on Lap 170, by which time Harvick had dropped to fifth after a poor restart.

Kurt Busch led the field back to green and remained in first position for 26 laps before Keselowski got by on the low line on Lap 199 and Harvick made the pass for second position a lap later.

Kyle Busch was on the way back up and took top spot off Keselowski on Lap 214 but pitted under green almost immediately.

That gave Denny Hamlin (#11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) the lead until he too peeled off to the pits and made way for Harvick on Lap 226.

First position transferred back to Hamlin when Harvick pitted on Lap 253, but the latter came back and passed #11 on the track.

Again, Harvick pitted on Lap 288 but, armed with newer rubber, caught and passed Hamlin to reclaim the lead on Lap 290.

Aside from the final Caution on Lap 298, Harvick led for the rest of the way despite a hectic four-wide restart to win by 2.690s.

It was his second victory in as many days after also taking out the Xfinity Series race, but first at Atlanta in the Cup Series since his rookie season in 2001.

Keselowski finished second after gaining ground in pit lane under that Caution, brought about when Trevor Bayne’s #6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford lost an engine and caused Bubba Wallace (#43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet) to shunt Ricky Stenhouse Jnr (#17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford) with the track obscured by smoke.

Bowyer made up a couple of positions at the restart to finish third, ahead of Hamlin and Martin Truex Jnr.

Truex Jnr had started all the way back in 35th and lost his car chief Blake Harris when his #78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota three times failed inspections before qualifying.

The 2017 Cup Series champion also dropped from sixth to 15th under the third Caution due to a rattlegun problem before climbing back and the top 10 and eventually gaining three positions between the final Caution and the chequered flag.

Joey Logano (#22 Team Penske Ford), who finished sixth, is on top of the standings ahead of Round 3, the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, this weekend (March 2-4 local time).

Johnson spins with a failed tyre

Race highlights

Results: Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500, Atlanta Motor Speedway

Pos Num Driver Make Laps Led Status
1 4 Kevin Harvick Ford 325 181 Running
2 2 Brad Keselowski Ford 325 38 Running
3 14 Clint Bowyer Ford 325 0 Running
4 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 325 26 Running
5 78 Martin Truex Jnr Toyota 325 1 Running
6 22 Joey Logano Ford 325 1 Running
7 18 Kyle Busch Toyota 325 9 Running
8 41 Kurt Busch Ford 325 52 Running
9 42 Kyle Larson Chevrolet 325 0 Running
10 9 Chase Elliott Chevrolet 325 0 Running
11 20 Erik Jones Toyota 325 0 Running
12 12 Ryan Blaney Ford 325 0 Running
13 10 Aric Almirola Ford 325 0 Running
14 3 Austin Dillon Chevrolet 324 0 Running
15 19 Daniel Suarez Toyota 324 0 Running
16 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jnr Ford 324 0 Running
17 21 Paul Menard Ford 324 0 Running
18 24 William Byron Chevrolet 323 0 Running
19 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 323 0 Running
20 88 Alex Bowman Chevrolet 322 0 Running
21 95 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet 322 0 Running
22 31 Ryan Newman Chevrolet 322 17 Running
23 38 David Ragan Ford 321 0 Running
24 34 Michael McDowell Ford 321 0 Running
25 37 Chris Buescher Chevrolet 321 0 Running
26 13 Ty Dillon Chevrolet 321 0 Running
27 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 321 0 Running
28 72 Cole Whitt Chevrolet 320 0 Running
29 47 AJ Allmendinger Chevrolet 320 0 Running
30 15 Ross Chastain Chevrolet 319 0 Running
31 32 Matt DiBenedetto Ford 319 0 Running
32 43 Darrell Wallace Jnr Chevrolet 319 0 Running
33 51 Harrison Rhodes Chevrolet 310 0 Running
34 00 Jeffrey Earnhardt Chevrolet 305 0 Running
35 6 Trevor Bayne Ford 292 0 Engine
36 23 Gray Gaulding Toyota 99 0 Steering

Standings

Pos Driver Pts Gap Starts Wins Pl’off pts
1 Joey Logano 89 2 0 0
2 Ryan Blaney 83 -6 2 0 1
3 Denny Hamlin 77 -12 2 0 0
4 Kevin Harvick 75 -14 2 1 6
5 Clint Bowyer 74 -15 2 0 0
6 Austin Dillon 70 -19 2 1 5
7 Martin Truex Jnr 69 -20 2 0 0
8 Kurt Busch 68 -21 2 0 1
9 Paul Menard 66 -23 2 0 0
10 Aric Almirola 66 -23 2 0 0
11 Kyle Busch 61 -28 2 0 0
12 Brad Keselowski 58 -31 2 0 1
13 Kyle Larson 54 -35 2 0 0
14 Darrell Wallace Jnr 52 -37 2 0 0
15 Michael McDowell 52 -37 2 0 0
16 Ryan Newman 49 -40 2 0 0
17 Alex Bowman 46 -43 2 0 0
18 Chris Buescher 45 -44 2 0 0
19 Chase Elliott 44 -45 2 0 0
20 Ricky Stenhouse Jnr 43 -46 2 0 0
21 Jamie McMurray 41 -48 2 0 0
22 AJ Allmendinger 36 -53 2 0 0
23 Erik Jones 35 -54 2 0 0
24 Trevor Bayne 33 -56 2 0 0
25 William Byron 33 -56 2 0 0
26 Daniel Suarez 27 -62 2 0 0
27 David Ragan 25 -64 2 0 0
28 Jeffrey Earnhardt 19 -70 2 0 0
29 Kasey Kahne 19 -70 2 0 0
30 Gray Gaulding 18 -71 2 0 0
31 Matt DiBenedetto 16 -73 2 0 0
32 Mark Thompson 15 -74 1 0 0
33 DJ Kennington 13 -76 1 0 0
34 Ty Dillon 12 -77 2 0 0
35 Jimmie Johnson 11 -78 2 0 0
36 Brendan Gaughan 9 -80 1 0 0
37 Cole Whitt 9 -80 1 0 0
38 Harrison Rhodes 4 -85 1 0 0
39 Danica Patrick 2 -87 1 0 0
40 Corey LaJoie 1 -88 1 0 0
41 Justin Marks 0 -89 1 0 0
42 David Gilliland 0 -89 1 0 0
43 Ross Chastain 0 -89 1 0 0

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