Kevin Harvick won Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the site of his first career win in 2001.
Harvick led the most laps for the fifth consecutive time at Atlanta, but this time he was able to close the deal by taking his 38th career Cup Series win and second at the 1.54-mile track.
“I’m just so proud of everyone on our team,” Harvick said. “That was the first win of my career and to be able to do that and pay tribute to Dale, that was pretty cool. I’ve been waiting a long time to do that. We’ve had so many days where we could do that here.” (Watch Video)
His 181 laps at the front of the field paced the day’s action and sent Harvick to his second Atlanta win of the weekend after he took Saturday’s Xfinity Series race.
“It was great getting in this car and knowing everybody knew that had to beat our car,” Harvick said.
Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top five.
Harvick and Keselowski won the day’s first two stages.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series now heads to Las Vegas Motor Speedway next Sunday afternoon.
How Harvick Won: He kicked the field from Hampton, Georgia to just outside Savannah with a dominating performance. There was some drama late when Trevor Bayne blew an engine late to bring out the caution and set up a restart after the leader came to pit road. But on the ensuing restart, Harvick got a good jump at the drop of the green flag and never looked back on his way to win number one of the 2018 season.
Who Had a Good Day: Keselowski scored only his third top-five finish in 10 races at Atlanta, two of the three came in the last two races…Bowyer notched his first top-five finish at Atlanta in 18 races with his previous best finish sixth (four times) (Read More)…Hamlin has finished in the top-10 in the last eight races on 1.5 mile tracks, his longest ever streak (Read More).
Who Had a Bad Day: Jimmie Johnson’s bad start to the season continued in Atlanta when he finished 27th after a spin and then had a right-front tire come apart while driving to pit road…He is winless in the last 25 starts, the longest drought of his career…Ryan Newman started outside the front row but after leading 17 laps had a tire problem and hit the wall on lap 80…Bayne’s blown engine put up so much smoke it caused Bubba Wallace to run into Ricky Stenhouse Jr. with both cars receiving damage in the late going.
What Else Happened: Mother Nature did her best to intervene on Sunday but she wound up losing the battle to NASCAR. There was a delay of about an hour from the scheduled start time but once the race went green, despite dire forecasts for more rain by most weather professionals, things went to its conclusion. The worn out racing surface, which was spared at least another year by drivers pleading track officials to not repave, provided several options around the 1.5-mile track. But Harvick was so good and strong, it was nearly impossible for anyone to make a challenge outside of a few strategy plays that ultimately wound up coming up short.
Quotable: “I’ve been waiting a long time to do that,” Harvick on paying tribune to Dale Earnhardt in his victory celebration.
Noteable: It was the fifth time that Harvick swept both the NXS and the MENCS races in a weekend…Harvick’s 12th win on a 1.5-mile track is the second most among active drivers…Elliott has never finished outside the top 10 in any of his NASCAR National Touring Series starts at Atlanta.