Kevin Harvick scored a dominating victory in Saturday night's NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway to notch his third win of the season and his second-consecutive Atlanta Nationwide win.
Harvick led the final 159 laps to beat out fellow Sprint Cup driver Joey Logano and Sprint Cup rookie contender Kyle Larson, earning his 43rd-career Nationwide victory and his third-career win at Atlanta.
"It's just one of those race tracks where I like the challenge of everything you get to do here, and Ernie (Cope, crew chief) and I have found a great setup here over the years, and it's still working today," said Harvick, who starts on the pole for Sunday night's Sprint Cup race. "This thing was bad-fast. The car was flawless."
Harvick and hometown favorite Chase Elliott combined to lead all 195 laps, with Harvick holding on through the night’s only two caution flags and pulling out to a near full-straight away lead at one point in the race.
Harvick’s momentum was slowed only by Mother Nature, as a brief rain shower brought out the final yellow flag on lap 122. The field ran 13 laps under caution before the small shower moved out.
Once back underway, Harvick again pulled away from the field but Logano and Larson managed to make up a little ground in the closing stages of the race.
By the time the checkered flag fell, Logano had closed to within a half a second of Harvick, but ran out of laps to try to mount a challenge for the lead.
"Our car was a little bit off to start the race – just too loose," said Logano. "I took off that last run and started to catch Kevin a little bit and then started to get too tight. He started driving away a little bit and then last six or seven laps all of a sudden the light switch turned on and I started catching him. I just ran out of time. I wish there were five or seven more laps and I could have got to him and tried to do something with him."
Elliott led the opening 39 laps from the front row after scoring his first-career Nationwide Series pole, but a late-race miscue on pit road doomed his chances of racing for the win, coming home with a fifth-place finish behind Kyle Busch.
''I just made a mistake, absolutely unacceptable," said Elliott of his final stop. "It’s disappointing. I’m frustrated with myself because my guys deserved second tonight and I didn’t get the job done for them."
Despite the disappointing finish, Elliott continues to lead the Nationwide Series points standings by 15 points over Regan Smith, who finished sixth. Brian Scott, David Ragan, Ty Dillon and Elliott Sadler rounded out the top ten finishers.
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