The NASCAR Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway as it happened

HAMPTON, GA - FEBRUARY 25: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Snickers Almond Toyota, and Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Liberty National Chevrolet, take the green flag to start the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 25, 2018 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

There wasn’t much drama for Kevin Harvick Sunday.  No missed pit calls, penalties or anything else that has denied him victory in Atlanta. In the last four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup races at Atlanta, Harvick has led the most laps only to see victory snatched away. Not so Sunday; Harvick was able to lead the most laps and score just his second career win at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Here’s how it all went down.

After a rain delay of over two hours, and with rain threatening Kyle Busch led the field to the green from his first Atlanta pole; Ryan Newman, Kevin Harvick, Daniel Suarez and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five.

Busch had the lead by turn 1 but Newman came back on the outside and charged to the lead by the exit of turn 2.  Busch fell into second, Suarez third followed by Stenhouse and Harvick by the end of the first lap.

Newman’s lead was nearing a second by lap 3.

Keselowski had worked his way back to fourth by lap 5, Kurt Busch was fifth; Harvick was sixth, Stenhouse seventh.

Alex Bowman who had started outside the top 10, was seventh by lap 9.

Keselowski slowed on lap 12 and fell back to sixth.

Martin Truex Jr., who had started 35th due to a qualifying issue was 12th by lap 14. He was 10th a lap later; Harvick up front took third.

Kyle Busch took the lead from Newman on lap 18. Harvick, Kurt Busch, and Suarez were behind.

Harvick worked his way to second and was soon looking for the lead.  He took the top spot on lap 21. Truex had moved to 8th.

Kurt Busch was looking for third on lap 26. He had the spot by lap 28.

Harvick had caught the back of the field by lap 29.  Truex took sixth on the same lap.

Due to the rain, NASCAR had called for a competition caution on lap 30; it flew on lap 30.  The top five:  Harvick, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Newman and Suarez.

The leaders pitted.  Harvick was out first followed by Kyle Busch, Newman, Kurt Busch, and Truex.

Green came out to start lap 36. Harvick was on the inside, Kyle Busch outside.

Kyle Busch spun his tires and Harvick rocketed to the lead; there was a scramble behind as Busch fell back.  At the end of the lap: Newman, Joey Logano, Truex and Keselowski. Kyle Busch had fallen to seventh.

Kurt Busch took fifth on lap 38.

The field was single file by lap 41.

Truex took second on lap 42. Kurt Busch took fourth on lap 47.  The lead for Harvick was just over 2 seconds.

Kyle Busch had recovered to fifth by lap 53; he was looking for third from Newman a lap later.  He had the spot by lap 55.  Kurt Busch was fifth and looking for fourth from Newman.  He had the spot by lap 56; Clint Bowyer was fifth ahead of Newman.

Harvick’s lead was just over three seconds by lap 64; the end of stage 1 was lap 85.

There were 27 cars on the lead lap.

As the end of the stage loomed, the lead for Harvick was 4.9 seconds.

Bowyer had worked his way to third and took second on lap 74. There were 11 laps left in the first stage.

With 5 to go in stage 1: Harvick, Bowyer, Truex, Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson, Logano, and Denny Hamlin.

Newman hit the wall on lap 81 and pitted.  There were 18 cars on the lead lap.

Top 10 Stage 1: Harvick, Bowyer, Keselowski, Truex, Almirola, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Larson, Hamlin, Logano. The second caution of the day came out to end the stage.  Erik Jones was able to hold off Harvick to stay on the lead leap and give Jimmie Johnson the free pass.

Pit road opened on lap 88; the leaders pitted.  Keselowski was out first followed by Bowyer, Truex, Almirola and Kyle Busch; with an 18 second stop Harvick came out sixth.  The Harvick team reported an air hose had blown out.  Harvick pitted again prior to the green to make sure the crew had gotten the lug nuts tight. He came out 19th, the last car on the lead lap.

Green came out to start lap 94. Keselowski took the lead, Truex followed into second.  Bowyer on the outside fell into third but continued slipping back.   The top five: Keselowski, Truex, Kurt Busch, Larson and Kyle Busch.  Kyle Busch reported an issue with his adjustable track bar.  Bowyer was sixth.

Kurt Busch took second on lap 98 and was soon looking for the lead.  He took the lead on lap 101.

Harvick was back inside the top 10 by lap 105.  The lead for Kurt Busch over Keselowski was 1.3 seconds.  Harvick was seventh by lap 112.

Larson was looking to retake fourth from Kyle Busch on lap 117 while Harvick snuck by and took fifth just as Larson took fourth from Kyle Busch.

Harvick had fourth by lap 120; he took third a lap later.

Kurt Busch and Keselowski were fighting for the lead by lap 122. Harvick lurked close behind.

There was a three-wide battle for the lead on lap 125; Kurt Busch had the lead, Harvick second when it was sorted out; Harvick took the lead a lap later.

Green flag stops started behind the leaders with Logano, and Truex among those pitting.  Hamlin pitted on lap 127.  Harvick pitted on the same lap.  Most of the lead pack followed.

Kyle Busch stayed out to lead a few laps but pitted on lap 131. Harvick was back to the lead; Keselowski, Larson Kurt Busch and Truex were behind for the top five.

On lap 159, Jimmie Johnson in 19th one lap down sun coming out of turn 1; caution three came out.

The leaders pitted; Keselowski was out first followed by Harvick, Kurt Busch, Hamlin and Kyle Busch.

The Truex crew had a pit gun issue and he spent a great deal of time on pit road; he came out 15th.

The green came out to start lap 162, 8 to go in the stage. Harvick on the outside spun his tires and Keselowski shot to the lead; Kurt and Kyle Busch were side by side behind, Harvick was behind Logano in fifth.

Top 10 Stage 2: Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Logano, Harvick, Hamlin, Larson, Almirola, Bowyer, Suarez.

The leaders pitted. Kurt Busch was out first followed by Logano, Keselowski, Harvick and Kyle Busch.

Green came out to start lap 178; Kurt Busch took the lead, Logano was second, Kyle Busch was third, Keselowski fourth, Harvick fifth.  Keselowski grabbed third on lap 179, then second two laps later; Harvick was third by lap 188.  Kyle Busch was fourth, Hamlin fifth.

Drivers were told rain was coming again and by lap 199 it was a three-way battle for the lead.   Keselowski took the lead on lap 199.  Kurt Busch was second, Harvick third, Kyle Busch fourth, Bowyer fifth.

There were rain drops appearing as Harvick took second on lap 201.

Harvick was gaining on Keselowski in traffic by lap 203.

Kyle passed Kurt for third on lap 208.

Green flag stops started on lap 210.

Harvick pitted on lap 212.  Keselowski pitted a lap later, Kurt Busch followed.

Hamlin and Logano both stayed out hoping for rain; they were one and two; Harvick, Keselowski and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five.

Hamlin pitted on lap 225, Logano followed him. Harvick was back in the lead.

By lap 236, Harvick’s lead was 6.4 seconds over Keselowski.  Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch and Bowyer were the top five.

Bowyer took fourth on lap 239.  Hamlin was 9th, Logano 11th, but trying to keep their pace a little slower in hopes of only needing one more stop; everyone else would need two.  They had un-lapped themselves.

Green flag stops started deep in the field on lap 250.

Both Busch brothers pitted on lap 251. The lead up front for Harvick was 10 seconds.

Keselowski pitted on lap 252; Harvick followed a lap later.

Hamlin inherited the lead on lap 253, Logano was second.

Chase Elliott, also on an alternate pit strategy stayed out and was fifth.

Harvick took second from Logano on lap 262. He was 4.9 seconds behind Hamlin and closing.

The lead was under a second by lap 265.

Harvick caught Hamlin on lap 266 and took the lead, as Elliott pitted.  Keselowski took third on lap 268.

There were 10 cars on the lead lap: Harvick, Hamlin, Keselowski, Logano, Kyle Busch, Bowyer, Larson, Kurt Busch, Suarez and Truex.

By lap 273, Harvick’s lead was 10.4 seconds.

Hamlin pitted on lap 274. Logano followed.  It could have been their last stops of the day.

Harvick passed Truex to put him a lap down on lap 277. There were seven cars on the lead lap.

There were five cars on the lead lap by lap 284; Harvick had an 11 second lead.

Larson pitted from fifth on lap 285. Others deeper in the pack began to pit.

Harvick pitted on lap 287.  Keselowski followed as did Kyle Busch.

Hamlin was back to the lead.  He wasn’t there long as Harvick powered by on lap 290.

Trevor Bayne lost an engine on lap 297 and caution five on the day came out. There were 28 laps to go. There were nine cars on the lead lap.  Darrell Wallace suffered extensive front end damage while running 22nd after getting into the back of Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

The leaders pitted.  Harvick was out first followed by Keselowski, Hamlin, Logano and Bowyer.  Kyle Busch had a slow stop and came out 10th.

There were 14 cars on the lead lap when green came out to start lap 304: 21 laps to go.  Harvick was on the inside, Keselowski on the outside.

Harvick shot to the lead, Hamlin was second, but Keselowski shot by on the outside to take second; it was four wide behind.  Bowyer emerged with third, Hamlin took fourth from Elliott.  Larson took fifth on lap 305; Truex got by for the spot by the end of the lap and had fifth.

Harvick was soon opening up his lead.

With 15 to go the top five had settled out; Harvick had a lead of 1.4 seconds over Keselowski. Bowyer, Hamlin and Truex were the top five.

The lead was 1.8 seconds with 10 to go.  It was 2.4 seconds with 5 to go.

On the white flag lap the lead was 3.6 seconds; Bowyer made a run on Keselowski for second but came up short as Harvick won.

Behind Harvick, Keselowski and Bowyer, Hamlin was fourth Truex fifth.

Logano was sixth, Kyle Busch seventh, Kurt Busch eighth, Larson ninth and Elliott tenth.

The Monster Energy Cup series heads to Las Vegas for the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The green flag will fall just after 3:30 p.m. ET with live coverage on Fox.

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.