Harvick dominates Atlanta Nationwide

Kevin Harvick dominated the Nationwide Series event at Atlanta but still needed a last-lap pass to win his second race of the season

Harvick dominates Atlanta Nationwide

Starting from the front row, Harvick grabbed the lead from polesitter Dale Earnhardt Jr when the green flag waved and held it until the first round of pitstops, which came during the first caution period of the race.

Kyle Busch led the field on the first restart, but after a handful of laps following Harvick was back in control. From then on, the two-time Nationwide Series champion looked in control, with nobody being able to get close to him on the long green-flag runs.

In the final part of the race though, Harvick needed to pit for fuel with 13 laps remaining, a lap later than second-placed Kyle Busch. That allowed third-placed Dale Earnhardt Jr to move into the lead and he tried to stretch his fuel mileage in order to go the distance without an extra stop.

Although he succeeded at finishing the race, his pace was not good enough on old tyres to stay in front as Harvick passed him on the last lap to reclaim the lead and drive off to a deserved win.

Similarly Busch got second, closing down the gap to Harvick to just over a second in the end after being more than four seconds back when he pitted for fuel and four new tyres for the last time.

"Once I got going I knew the #5 [Dale Earnhardt Jr] was trying stretching their fuel but I knew I was a couple of seconds a lap faster than he was and then I saw the #18 [Kyle Busch] coming from the back, he was better than us for about ten laps, so a lot of things happening there at the end but it all worked out," said Harvick.

"I thought the only car that we were racing was the #18 and I knew when he pitted first and showed his hand, I knew that I needed to do the same thing that he did. I had a little bit of trouble there in the pitstop and gave up four or five seconds but still had enough there in the end to win the race."

Kyle Busch finished second for the ninth time this year and increased the gap in the championship to Carl Edwards, who was able to complete the whole race despite the pain from his fractured right foot, finishing seventh in the end.

"What a non-race that was," Busch said. "Hopefully, it was a show there at the end. We were running down Junior [Dale Earnhardt] trying to get past him and he gave us both room. I could run the #33 [Kevin Harvick] down or beat him for 15 to 18 laps -- after that I just didn't have anything for him.

"Those guys were so good on the long run. He just had it over us."

Dale Earnhardt Jr's third place was welcomed by the JR Motorsports driver, even if victory was just a lap short from happening.

"We saved enough gas and finished closer to the front two guys than we were before on the racetrack so I guess it was the right call," said Earnhardt Jr. "We just didn't have enough in the end to hold them off. I tried to get going, they were coming. Real happy with the run for this team."

Brad Keselowski and Jeff Burton were the only drivers besides the top-three who finished on the lead lap with fourth and fifth at the chequered flag respectively. Joey Logano was sixth, passing Edwards on the last lap as both were getting lapped by the leader.

Pos Driver Car Laps 1. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 195 2. Kyle Busch Toyota 195 3. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 195 4. Brad Keselowski Chevrolet 195 5. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 195 6. Joey Logano Toyota 194 7. Carl Edwards Ford 194 8. Greg Biffle Ford 194 9. David Ragan Ford 194 10. Reed Sorenson Chevrolet 193 11. Kasey Kahne Toyota 193 12. Paul Menard Ford 193 13. Brian Vickers Toyota 193 14. Michael Annett Toyota 192 15. David Gilliland Dodge 192 16. Trevor Bayne Toyota 192 17. Justin Allgaier Dodge 192 18. Scott Wimmer Chevrolet 192 19. Mike Wallace Chevrolet 192 20. Jason Leffler Toyota 191 21. Shelby Howard Chevrolet 191 22. Robert Richardson Jr Chevrolet 191 23. Steve Wallace Chevrolet 191 24. Tony Raines Dodge 190 25. Matt Carter Ford 189 26. Eric McClure Ford 189 27. Kenny Wallace Chevrolet 189 28. Peyton Sellers Chevrolet 189 29. Chase Austin Chevrolet 186 30. Bobby Hamilton Jr Dodge 185 31. Brendan Gaughan Chevrolet 132 32. Kelly Bires Toyota 127 33. Brian Keselowski Dodge 71 34. Mike Bliss Chevrolet 46 35. Michael McDowell Dodge 41 36. Jeremy Clements Chevrolet 38 37. Jason Keller Ford 31 38. Casey Atwood Ford 12 39. Chase Miller Toyota 9 40. Mark Green Chevrolet 9 41. Kevin Lepage Dodge 6 42. Johnny Chapman Chevrolet 4 43. Dave Blaney Chevrolet 3 
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