17 years of trying, 17 years of frustration. Kevin Harvick finally wins at Atlanta. Again.
NASCAR is heading west next weekend to Las Vegas, the last thing the sport needed was a rain-postponed race. Have you ever driven to Las Vegas from the east coast? Don’t. Thankfully the NASCAR meteorologist was wrong and the rain we all thought would ruin the day held off.
Kevin Harvick made the most of the delayed start by absolutely dominating Sunday’s race for the third year in a row. Unlike 2016 and 2017 however, Harvick actually took home the checkered flag, trophy, and
girl Delana. Harvick led a race-high 181 of the 325 laps on Sunday as he hooked the yellow line in the corners and drove away from everyone trying to emulate his style around the track he got his first win on back in 2001.
Harvick had been winless at Atlanta in the cup series from 2001 until Sunday. High school seniors had never seen Kevin Harvick win at Atlanta, that’s a travesty. The past three years the #4 team has treated Atlanta like it was Phoenix. Absolutely dominating but the only difference was they never left with the trophy. Since joining Stewart Haas Racing in 2014 Harvick and his team have led 916 laps at Atlanta. Guys go their entire careers never leading that many laps and Harvick is out here leading that many at a track that only has one date a year. The #4 team has Atlanta figured out and everyone else is racing for second as they claimed the second playoff spot on the season.
Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano attempted to get off sequence and cut a pit stop out of their strategy. While Harvick and the field needed to pit 3 more times, Hamlin and Logano stretched their tires allowing them to two stop the final 125 laps of the race. At a track where tires are more coveted than Bryce Harper in free agency, Hamlin and his team thought they could win on old tires. The Joe Gibbs Racing twitter said their calculations showed Harvick catching Hamlin with 10 laps to go. With 37 laps to go Harvick blew past Hamlin and never looked back. The FedEx driver needed a few Adderall to understand the strategy. After the race, he seemed happy enough with his 4th place finish while excitedly holding his Coke. Ooooo coke.
Stewart Haas Racing looked STRONG on Sunday. Atlanta is the most unique 1.5-mile track because of the abrasive asphalt that murders tires quicker than a drug dealer in the Pork and Beans project. So don’t base the future of the season off this one race but with Harvick and Kurt Busch leading over 230 laps, Clint Bowyer finishing 3rd and Aric Almirola running Top 10 most of the day SHR is bringing it this season. The team the bucked the young driver trend and went with veterans is showing it may have been the best decision for right now. SHR just living in the moment, not worrying about the future like a basic white girl Instagram quote.
Harvick paid homage to Dale Earnhardt on his victory lap holding out three fingers to honor the driver he replaced at RCR back in 2001.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) February 26, 2018
Was The Race Boring
A fair amount of fans took to the internet during Sunday’s race to bemoan how boring the race was. Here’s the thing, it wasn’t that boring though. Sure Harvick was running away with it but the strategy Hamlin was attempting made it fun. The restart with 20 laps to go was exciting but overall it was a good race even without an abundance of cautions. There were only 5 cautions on Sunday, two for stages, one for competition and two for on-track incidents.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) February 25, 2018
Atlanta is all about handling and managing your tires. You can blast through the field early like Alex Bowman did to start the race but as soon as your tires reach their delta and fall off you’re struggling the rest of the run and end up right where you started. Harvick and Keselowski have shown they know how to manage their tires while maintaining speed. Watching guys have to wheel a car made Sunday entertaining, the problem is most casual fans don’t care about that. If they happened to tune in on Saturday when Harvick dominated the Xfinity race and had at one point a 22 second lead over 4th place they’d immediately tune out. Atlanta is all about handling, racing the race track if you will. Be thankful for tire drop off.
Where the hell were all the Chevy Camaro’s on Sunday?
About 9th place thanks to Kyle Larson. The Ganassi driver carried the flag AGAIN for Chevy as Hendrick, RCR and everyone else struggled to get a hold of the new Camaro body. It was expected the new body would cause teams to struggle but watching Hendrick Motorsports get outrun by a Premium Motorsports car on speed was painful to watch. Toyota struggled with the new Camry to start last season, hopefully, Chevy teams can figure out the new Camaro. Parity is needed in NASCAR.
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