Kevin Harvick dominated the Great Clips/Grit Chips 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday night, leading 132 laps of the 195 that made up the race en route to his second-career series win at the track. Kyle Busch finished second.
“That was the third year in a row we had the dominant car,” Harvick said. After dominating last year’s race, Harvick was passed by race winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on the final lap.
Although Harvick dominated the race, he wasn’t up front for the entire event. He spent the first third or so of the race working his way toward the front after starting 20th. In the opening laps, Busch dominated the front spot. Busch started from the pole and led 57 laps before Harvick took over the lead on lap 65 shortly after a restart.
Busch never regained the lead. But he did get back up to second on the final restart of the race with seven laps to go and raced Harvick side-by-side for the lead before Harvick cleared and drove away to the win.
With the second-place finish, Busch helped his No. 54 team trim five points off the 16 point lead the No. 22 team held in the Nationwide Series owner points standings. Joey Logano, who drove the No. 22 at Atlanta, finished sixth.
Logano ran second to Harvick for much of the race. He got off pit road second to Harvick during the final caution of the race, but lost positions on the restart.
“It’s frustrating,” Logano said. “We had that tire go down and recovered well from that. On that last stop, we didn’t adjust for the fuel we had in it. I was just too tight.”
Logano’s race looked to be heading south around lap 86 when he had a tire go down and scraped the wall while running second. But just a few laps after his stop, the rest of the field cycled through green-flag stops, cycling Logano back up to second and Harvick back to the lead.
Harvick reported a vibration that felt to come in the form of a loose wheel with just over 30 laps to go, but the team elected to keep him out on the race track. He did pit later, though, along with the rest of the field, when the fourth and final caution of the race came out with 14 laps to go, setting the race up for what ended up being a seven-lap sprint to the finish between Harvick and Busch.
“Just a little short,” Busch said. “I was just too tight after getting into the fence.”
Sam Hornish Jr., who ran outside the top-five for much of the race, moved into the third position after the final restart to post a top-three finish and increase his driver championship points lead from six points to 10 over second-place driver Austin Dillon. Dillon finished eighth.
“For the first half of the race, we were just way too tight,” Hornish said. “We made the right adjustments throughout the night.”
Kasey Kahne finished fourth after bringing out the second yellow flag of the race with a spin on lap 44. Kyle Larson rounded out the top-five.
Other top-10 finishers included Trevor Bayne in seventh, Regan Smith in ninth and Brian Scott in 10th.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR