Atlanta Motor Speedway experienced familiar sight Sunday afternoon with Kevin Harvick and the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team dominating its NASCAR Cup Series event.
For the third time in his career, and the second time in three races, Harvick was the driver in victory lane for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500. The 2014 Cup champion took the lead for the final time when green-flag pit stops cycled through with 54 laps to go, gapping second-place Martin Truex Jr. by just over two seconds.
In the end, though, the final margin of victory was 3.5 seconds, with Kyle Busch claiming the runner up spot.
Truex finished third, over four seconds behind Harvick. Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin completed the top five.
Harvick led a race-high 151 laps, and he has now led 1,212 laps in the last nine Atlanta races.
“They had a great pit stop,” said Harvick of his performance. “We got a restart on the bottom, and they got my car to take off. I was able to get track position, and then once I could get through those first 10 laps and my car was freed up enough to where I could get in a rhythm and really start hitting my marks, and then by about lap 25, I could start driving away.
“I’m just proud of everybody from Busch Light and Ford, Stewart-Haas Racing. Thank you, guys, for everything.”
The victory is the second of the season for Harvick and the 51st of his Cup Series career. After the checkered flag, Harvick, just as he did in 2001 and 2018, did a polish victory lap around the track with three fingers raised for the late Dale Earnhardt.
“Obviously, (my) first win came for me here at Atlanta, and this is just a racetrack that I’ve taken a liking to, and you always come back and have those memories, and now you want to celebrate everything that Dale Earnhardt did for this sport,” he said. “To come here and be able to do that with wins and go to victory lane is pretty special, so I just have to thank everybody from Busch Light.”
The final stage started on lap 218 – 108 laps to go – and went caution-free. There were 10 cars on the lead lap at the finish. Truex won the first two stages and led the race’s second-most laps with 65. The stage wins are the first playoff points Truex has scored this season.
Finishing sixth was Kurt Busch while Jimmie Johnson was seventh, pole-sitter Chase Elliott finished eighth, Brad Keselowski finished ninth, and Joey Logano 10th. Elliott led the first 26 laps from the pole, up to the competition caution. Logano led 10 laps.
Harvick wasn’t the only Stewart-Haas car with a strong run. However, teammate Clint Bowyer wound up with a 20th-place finish after leading 58 laps because his right rear tire kept coming apart, and he had to pit with 14 laps to go and lost his track position.
There were five caution flags Sunday afternoon and 21 lead changes among nine drivers.