Harvick steals win at Atlanta

Published 12:41 am Monday, March 6, 2017

HAMPTON, Ga. (AP) — Kevin Harvick ruined a dominating performance by going too fast on pit road Sunday, allowing Brad Keselowski to steal a NASCAR Monster Energy Cup victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Harvick seemed poised to win at the 1.54-mile trioval for the first time since his initial Cup victory in 2001, just three races after he got his chance following the death of Dale Earnhardt.
Harvick won the first two stages under NASCAR’s new format and led a staggering 293 out of 325 laps overall. But, after a yellow flag came out when Austin Dillon lost power, the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford eclipsed the 45 mph speed limit going into the pits for his final stop.
The drive-thru penalty pushed Kyle Larson to the lead but he couldn’t hold off Keselowski, who surged ahead on the backstretch with six laps to go and held on for a 0.564-second victory.
But this one was all about Harvick, who was looking to give Stewart-Haas its second straight victory to start the season after Kurt Busch’s won the Daytona 500.
Harvick clearly had the fastest car all weekend, starting from the pole and easily taking the first two 85-lap stages under NASCAR’s new format.
Then, when the victory was in his grasp, he led it slip away by going too fast.
The speeding penalty on pit road — an issue that plagued a bunch of drivers, including two-time defending race winner Jimmie Johnson — knocked Harvick to the end of the lead pack with 11 laps remaining.
That wasn’t enough time to make up for his mistake, forcing him to settle for a ninth-place showing that should’ve been so much better.
“I didn’t think I was pushing it,” Harvick told his crew over the radio. “I’m so sorry guys.”
He should be used to this sort of bitter disappointment in Atlanta.
Harvick led more laps than anyone each of the last three years, a total of 442 in all, but was never ahead when it mattered.
On Sunday, it happened again.

Email newsletter signup