It was a good day for Brad Keselowski, not so good for Kevin Harvick Sunday. Keselowski scored his first Atlanta win while Harvick came up short, again. Here’s how it all went down at Atlanta Sunday.
From his second pole at Atlanta, and his first in a Ford, Kevin Harvick led the field to the green, Ryan Newman was lined up outside with Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five.
Harvick shot to the lead as Kyle Busch slipped into second. Newman fell into third. Behind Jamie McMurray and Joey Logano appeared to make contact with Logano nearly spinning out but both continued just outside the top five. Newman was looking for second by lap 7 and was outside Busch. He was able to secure the spot halfway through the lap. Busch was soon falling back; Stenhouse was third by lap 12. The lead for Harvick was 2 seconds. Stenhouse took second on lap 13. Busch was fourth, Martin Truex Jr. fifth.
By lap 17, Truex was fourth and Kyle Busch was continuing to drop back. He was sixth and trying to hold off Logano. Logano took sixth a lap later.
Brad Keselowski had worked his way forward and took third on lap 29, Truex was close behind.
Cars began to pit on lap 35; Dale Earnhardt Jr. was penalized for speeding. Matt Kenseth was also penalized for speeding. Harvick pitted from the lead on lap 36, Stenhouse and Truex followed him. Newman stayed out to lead and pitted on lap 38.
When the stops cycled through by lap 42 the top five were Harvick, Keselowski, Chase Elliott, Logano and Kurt Busch. Stenhouse took fifth from Busch a few laps later.
In lapped traffic, Harvick’s lead was just over two seconds by lap 54.
Earnhardt lost a rear tire and pitted under green on lap 69. There was no caution. The top five with 10 to go in the first stage: Harvick, Keselowski, Elliott, Logano and Truex. Harvick had a lead of just over 4 seconds.
Harvick led at the end of stage 1, which was the first caution of the day. Behind him the top 10: Keselowski, Elliott, Truex, Logano, Newman, Stenhouse, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson and Jimmie Johnson.
The top runners pitted on lap 90. Harvick was first off pit road, followed by Elliott, Keselowski , Logano Truex and Newman.
Green came back out on lap 94 with Harvick on the inside, Elliott on the outside; there were 18 cars on the lead lap. Harvick took sole possession of first. Keselowski and Elliott were side by side for second; Harvick ran high entering turn 1 the next lap and nearly lost the lead to Keselowski who had grabbed second. He held on though and continued, Elliott settled into third. Newman and Larson completed the top five.
Larson took fourth on lap 103. Harvick’s lead was just over 1 second by lap 115; Keselowski was reporting a possible front tire issue, maybe running over something. He pitted on lap 117. Logano pitted two laps later. He was penalized for speeding on pit road. Harvick’s lead up front was six seconds over Elliott, Newman, Larson and Truex.
Truex pitted on lap 125; Keselowski unlapped himself on track. Newman and Larson followed. Harvick pitted on lap 127, Elliott followed him. There were 42 laps to go in the second stage.
By pitting 11 laps early, Keselowski took the lead when the stops cycled through on lap 130. His lead was 10 seconds. There were 14 cars on the lead lap. By lap 135 however the lead was down to 3 seconds. The lead was less than a second by lap 140; Harvick retook the lead on lap 142. Keselowski pitted right after. Elliott was second again, followed by Newman, Truex and Larson.
Hamlin pitted from eighth with a vibration on lap 160. After pitting, he didn’t get up to speed and Hamlin reported that “something is broken”, possibly a track bar. Newman Truex and Larson were fighting for spots with 4 laps to go in stage 2. Harivick’s lead was just over 6 seconds.
Harvick won Stage 2; Elliott, Newman, Truex, Larson, Dillon, Keselowski, Erik Jones, Clint Bowyer and Trevor Bayne were the rest of the top 10. Hamlin headed to the garage.
The leaders pitted. Harvick was out first, followed by Elliott, Newman, Keselowski, Dillon and Larson. Logano spend extra time on pit road repairing a hole in the hood.
Green came back out on lap 178. Harvick restarted on the inside with Elliott on the outside. Harvick had a clear lead by turn 1, Newman followed into second. Elliott fought back and retook the spot from Newman. Keselowski was fourth, McMurray came from 12th to fifth two laps later. Larson took fifth on lap 187.
Larson took third on lap 201. Unlike the first two stages, Harvick’s lead was less than a second over Elliott.
Newman pitted on lap 209. Truex followed as did McMurray and Larson. Truex was penalized for speeding. Harvick pitted on lap 211, Elliott followed him. Elliott was also penalized for speeding. Larson fell into second as Elliott did his pass through on pit road. He rejoined the field 12th, the last car on the lead lap.
Newman was fighting his RCR teammate for fifth on lap 224. The lead for Harvick was just over 2 seconds. Bowyer was third behind Larson, Keselowski and Dillon rounded out the top five.
The first caution not for a post stage came out on lap 239 for debris. The leaders all pitted. Harvick was out first followed by Larson, Keselowski, Bowyer, Dillon and Newman.
Green came back out on lap 245. Harvick led into turn 1 on the inside; Larson fought back on the outside and took second from Keselowski. Dillon and Kurt Busch rounded out the top five. Dillon had worked his way into third; Larson settled into fourth. Keselowski had retaken second.
Elliott had rebounded to fifth by lap 260. The lead up front was 2 seconds.
Caution 4 came out on lap 262 when Gray Gaulding lost an engine.
The leaders all pitted. Keselowski was first off pit road barely beating out Harvick. Dillon, Elliott and Kurt Busch followed. Any drama on the restart was erased however, when Keselowski had to re-pit when the crew told him they had missed some lugnuts. He restarted 14th.
Harvick was again on the inside when green came back out on lap 269. Dillon did not get going and the outside line stacked up. Larson and Elliott fought for second as Harvick took off. Several cars got jumbled up and some made contact but kept going, including Bowyer who tagged the outside wall and got into Jones. Dillon ended up in seventh.
Larson and Elliott were still dueling for second with Larson getting the spot on lap 275. Elliott took second a lap later; Harvick had a lead of just over 1 second. Bowyer lost a tire from the earlier contact and hit the turn 3 wall on lap 279 and caution 5 came out.
The leaders all came back in for stops. Harvick was out first, followed by Elliott, Larson, Newman and Kurt Busch. Newman was penalized for a crewmember coming over the wall too soon.
The restart came on lap 283. Harvick was in the lead by turn 1; Elliott was able to get a run on the outside to hold second. The two pulled away from Larson in third. Kurt Busch and Keselowski were the top five. Keselowski took fourth on lap 285. Newman pitted with a battery issue. He was pushed behind the wall. Up front Harvick was soon stretching out his lead. Matt Kenseth who had two speeding penalties and fell several laps down, was looking for fifth by lap 294. He had the spot on lap 295, Keselowski took third on lap 299. The lead was 1.7 seconds.
With 19 to go Kenseth and Dillon were fighting for position. Newman came back out from the garage. Dillon slowed and soon Truex was dueling with Kenseth. Dillon was slow on the apron with no power. Caution 6 came out on lap 310 as Dillon, Newman’s teammate came to a stop on the backstretch with an apparent battery issue.
The leaders pitted. Harvick was out first, followed by Larson, Kenseth, Keselowski and Elliott. Harvick however was nailed for speeding. Larson inherited the lead with 13 laps to go, Harvick restarted 13th but 35th in line.
The restart came with 11 laps to go. On the restart Elliott was shuffled back in the field as Keselowski took over second, Kenseth third, as Larson led. Kurt Busch was fourth, Kasey Kahne fifth.
Keselowski was looking for the lead with 8 laps to go. The two were side by side with 7 to go, with Keselowski gaining the lead. Logano, who had lost a couple of laps earlier was looking for sixth, with 4 to go.
The final laps were un-dramatic as Keselowski won the race by just under a second over Larson. Kenseth was third, followed by Kahne and Elliott.
Logano rallied to finish sixth, Kurt Busch was seventh, Truex eighth, Harvick fought back for ninth and McMurray rounded out the top 10.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Las Vegas next Sunday for the Kobalt 400. Live coverage will be on Fox starting at 3:00 p.m. ET.
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