Harvick wins Atlanta truck race over Busch
Driving for his own Kevin Harvick, Inc. team in a Chevrolet Silverado sponsored by the race sponsor, Harvick led two times for 100 laps – including the final 56 - to beat out Kyle Busch for his third consecutive NCWTS victory dating back to the end of the 2009 season.
Aric Almirola finished third, followed by Steven Wallace and Todd Bodine.
With his win on Saturday, Harvick now has victories at Atlanta in all three of NASCAR’s top three series.
“We had a great truck,” said Harvick. “The thing about truck racing on these big race tracks, the draft comes into effect, so every once in awhile they’d shuffle us back, but if we could keep our track position and get a good restart and get down on the bottom of the track and get a little air on the front of their noses, it seemed like after six or seven laps, we could start pulling away.
“It’s great when you have the sponsor on your truck that’s sponsoring the race as well, that makes like good. Everyone did a good job today, they were flawless on pit road, we didn’t make a whole lot of changes on the truck all weekend, so it was a pretty much a fun weekend.”
While Harvick celebrated in Victory Lane, crewmembers for the other KHI entry of driver Ron Hornaday were busy loading another wrecked truck onto their hauler, as the defending series champion crashed out for the second consecutive race after blowing a left-rear tire on lap 24.
Starting from the pole, Hornaday made contact was Kyle Busch while battling for position just after the start of the race, damaging the tire and ultimately causing it to fail, sending Hornaday sliding into the outside wall.
Busch, winner of four of the last six truck races here, suffered damage to his truck as well, which may have cost him a shot at his first victory for his own Kyle Busch Motorsports team.
“That was about all we had,” said Busch. “We gave it everything there (at the end). That’s a good run for us – a solid run for Kyle Busch Motorsports and these guys, they deserve it. We still had a decent effort. This is a young team, this is good to come out of the box here and run strong,
“It was a good race for us, we weren’t quite as fast as we’d like to have been but were not sure if that came from our damage early in the race on lap one.”
Steven Wallace, driver of former Sprint Cup Champion Rusty Wallace, made his NCWTS debut driving Kyle Busch’s old ride for Billy Ballew Motorsports and finished a respectable fourth.
“These (trucks) draft really, really hard,” said Wallace. “When you get someone on your right-rear quarter panel you tend to get really, really loose. They are definitely a blast to drive.”
Following the fifth caution flag on lap 77, it looked as though the race would turn into a fuel mileage battle, as several teams running in the back of the pack topped off their tanks in the hopes the race would stay green for the final 49 laps.
Those hopes were dashed though after Donny Lia tagged the wall on lap 113, bringing out the sixth and final yellow flag and allowing Harvick and leaders to pit under the caution.
Harvick beat everyone off pit road to hold the top spot for the final restart and left the field behind, easily cruising to the checkered flag by 1.308 seconds over Busch.
Todd Bodine rebounded after tangling with Matt Crafton on lap 62 to finish fifth and assumed the points lead from Timothy Peters, who dropped to second in the standings over Jason White, Almirola and Busch.
* Denotes Rookie
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