Harvick holds off Logano to win third straight NASCAR XFINITY race in Atlanta

HAMPTON, GA - FEBRUARY 28:  Kevin Harvick, driver of the #88 Bad Boy Buggies Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Hisense 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 28, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

HAMPTON, GA – FEBRUARY 28: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #88 Bad Boy Buggies Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Hisense 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 28, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

HAMPTON, Ga.—If you had to pick one driver to knock Joey Logano off his pedestal at Atlanta Motor Speedway, you couldn’t make a better choice than Kevin Harvick.

Holding off Logano after a restart on Lap 140 of 163, Harvick won Saturday’s Hisense 250 NASCAR XFINITY Series race, ending a success streak that saw Logano beat Harvick for the win in the Daytona 500 and edge Harvick for the Coors Light Pole for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (1 p.m. ET on FOX) at AMS.

The victory was Harvick’s third straight at Atlanta and fourth overall. He won for the 45th time in the XFINITY Series, third most all-time. It was also the first victory for Dave Elenz as a crew chief.

After Logano developed a left rear wheel vibration during the final run, Harvick pulled away and crossed the finish line 1.208 seconds ahead of Logano, who finished second at Atlanta for the second straight season.

Ty Dillon came home third, followed by Chris Buescher and defending series champion Chase Elliott, who pushed Harvick ahead of Logano on the Lap 140 restart.

“I knew I needed to take off,” Harvick said of the final run. “I thought his car was a little bit better as we got to about lap 20 (of a fuel run). He started reeling us in from that point on.

“All in all, these guys on this Bad Boy Buggies Chevrolet did a great job today. Awesome pit stops all day long, and we were able to make up some ground on that last pit stop (under caution on Lap 136).”

Logano had to cope with the outside lane on the final restart, after Harvick chose the inside as the prerogative of the leader.

“We got beat off pit road, but we had a decent restart from the outside lane—the outside is so tough—I thought if I could get door-to-door with him and get him loose underneath me, but the 9 (Elliott) was able to push him out ahead.

“At that point, I was just trying to move around, different lanes, trying to find something for some speed. I was starting to catch him, and then I just had this huge vibration. At that point, I was just trying to survive and hoping the left rear didn’t pass me.”

Logano started from the pole and dominated the race until the first round of green-flag pit stops. Bringing the No. 22 Ford to pit road as the lead on Lap 50, Logano had issues on the right front and spent a couple of extra seconds in his stall.

Logano’s issues played into the hands of Harvick, who had entered pit road three laps earlier running five seconds behind Logano. But Harvick’s three-lap advantage on new tires, coupled with Logano’s snafu on pit road, put the No. 88 Chevrolet out front when the round of pit stops cycled through.

Harvick maintained the top spot, with Logano in pursuit roughly one second behind, until NASCAR called the second caution of the race, for debris in Turn 3 on Lap 86, just in time for the nine cars on the lead lap to come to pit road for four new tires and fuel.

Harvick surged ahead from the top lane after the subsequently restart on Lap 91 and quickly rebuilt his one-second lead over Logano.

Logano, however, soon began chipping away at Harvick’s lead, first by hundredths of a second, later by tenths. On Lap 126, Logano drove high into Turn 1, gained momentum and pulled up near Harvick’s bumper as the cars completed the circuit.

Harvick took the high line into the first corner on Lap 127, but Logano steered to the inside and made the pass for the lead off Turn 2.

But fluid on the backstretch slowed the field for the third time on lap 134, and Harvick beat Logano off pit road and retook the lead after yellow-flag stops on Lap 136.

“That pit stop is what won this race,” Harvick said. “Joey probably had a better car the second half of the run. It really played out for us there at the end, as we were able to have that short run and take off.”

NASCAR XFINITY Series Race – Hisense 250

Atlanta Motor Speedway

Hampton, Georgia

Saturday, February 28, 2015

1. (8) Kevin Harvick(i), Chevrolet, 163, $54649.

2. (1) Joey Logano(i), Ford, 163, $43730.

3. (17) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 163, $35313.

4. (18) Chris Buescher, Ford, 163, $28507.

5. (9) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 163, $31022.

6. (11) Paul Menard(i), Chevrolet, 163, $21195.

7. (2) Brian Scott, Chevrolet, 163, $26872.

8. (5) Matt Kenseth(i), Toyota, 163, $20450.

9. (3) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 163, $25547.

10. (4) Kyle Larson(i), Chevrolet, 163, $19714.

11. (23) Darrell Wallace Jr. #, Ford, 162, $24956.

12. (6) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 162, $23853.

13. (12) Erik Jones(i), Toyota, 161, $22868.

14. (21) Daniel Suarez #, Toyota, 161, $22310.

15. (10) Sam Hornish Jr.(i), Ford, 161, $22533.

16. (19) Ryan Reed, Ford, 161, $22258.

17. (27) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 161, $21982.

18. (14) Elliott Sadler, Ford, 160, $21881.

19. (15) JJ Yeley, Toyota, 160, $21804.

20. (20) Dakoda Armstrong, Ford, 160, $22203.

21. (22) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 160, $21627.

22. (25) Blake Koch, Toyota, 160, $21546.

23. (7) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 159, $21470.

24. (26) Ross Chastain #, Chevrolet, 159, $21369.

25. (16) Mike Bliss, Toyota, 159, $21469.

26. (30) David Starr, Toyota, 159, $21268.

27. (13) John Wes Townley(i), Chevrolet, 156, $15216.

28. (29) Eric McClure, Toyota, 156, $21141.

29. (37) Chris Cockrum, Chevrolet, 156, $21091.

30. (31) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, 155, $21289.

31. (36) Cody Ware(i), Dodge, 153, $20934.

32. (34) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 144, $20872.

33. (28) Jimmy Weller, Chevrolet, 140, $20807.

34. (35) Harrison Rhodes #, Chevrolet, 130, $20771.

35. (24) Cale Conley #, Toyota, Engine, 128, $20723.

36. (33) Derrike Cope, Chevrolet, 128, $19260.

37. (38) Mike Harmon, Dodge, Front Hub, 92, $18260.

38. (32) Josh Reaume #, Chevrolet, Electrical, 28, $11260.

39. (39) Carl Long, Toyota, Vibration, 19, $10260.

40. (40) Morgan Shepherd, Chevrolet, Suspension, 2, $9260.
Average Speed of Race Winner:  149.813 mph.

Time of Race:  01 Hrs, 40 Mins, 32 Secs. Margin of Victory:  1.207 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  3 for 12 laps.

Lead Changes:  4 among 3 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   J. Logano(i) 1-49; M. Kenseth(i) 50-52; K. Harvick(i) 53-126; J. Logano(i) 127-136; K. Harvick(i) 137-163.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  K. Harvick(i) 2 times for 101 laps; J. Logano(i) 2 times for 59 laps; M. Kenseth(i) 1 time for 3 laps.

Top 10 in Points: C. Buescher – 83; T. Dillon – 83; R. Reed – 75; D. Wallace Jr. # – 66; D. Armstrong – 57; D. Starr – 56; B. Scott – 56; C. Elliott – 55; R. Chastain # – 55; J. Clements – 53.

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