Kevin Harvick earns first Atlanta Cup win since 2001


Kevin Harvick torched the field to win Sunday’s Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway for his second Cup win at the track.

Harvick, who also won Saturday’s Xfinity Series race, claimed his first Cup win at the track in 2001 when he made his third Cup start ever. He led a race-high 181 laps.

After the checkered flag, Harvick held three fingers up in the air as a tribute to Dale Earnhardt Sr., who he replaced following Earnhardt’s death in the 2001 Daytona 500.

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver beat Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr.

“I’m just so proud of everyone on our team,” Harvick told Fox Sports. “That was the first win of my career (in 2001) and to be able to do that and pay tribute to Dale, that was pretty cool. I’ve been waiting a long time to do that. We’ve had so many days where we could do that here.”

Harvick has led the most laps inthe last five Atlanta races.

“It was great getting into this race car and knowing that everybody knew that they had to beat our car,” Harvick said.

Harvick led the final 25 laps following the final caution with 27 laps to go.

The No. 4 Ford left the field behind on the final restart with 21 to go.

Harvick earned the win after the threat of rain loomed north of the track all afternoon once it started. Initially scheduled to start at 1:06 p.m. ET, it did not begin until 3:32 p.m. ET once the track was dry following a morning full of rain.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Kevin Harvick

STAGE 2 WINNER: Brad Keselowski

MORE: Race results

MORE: Joey Logano leads point standings

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Stewart-Haas Racing finished with three of its cars in the top 10, with Kurt Busch finishing eighth. Aric Almirola was in the top 10 for much of the first half of the race, but finished 13th … Martin Truex Jr. finished fifth after having to start from the rear. He did not get to make a qualifying attempt on Friday due to not getting through inspection. As a result, his car chief was ejected from the event. … Denny Hamlin is the only driver with two top-five finishes to begin the season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Chevrolet teams. Only three finished in the top 15 with Kyle Larson (ninth), Chase Elliott (10th) and Austin Dillon (14th) … Ryan Newman led the first 17 laps of the race, but on Lap 80 his car got into the wall after his right-front tire gave out. He finished 22nd … Jimmie Jonson spun on his own exiting Turn 2 on Lap 159, causing damage to his right front fender. He finished 27th and has now gone 25 races without a win, the longest streak of his career … Trevor Bayne lost his engine with 28 laps to go. He finished 35th … Bayne’s engine emitted so much smoke, Darrell Wallace Jr. ran into the back of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Wallace finished 32nd.

NOTABLE: Kevin Harvick’s win is his 38th in Cup and his 99th overall in all three of NASCAR’s national series …  The victory is Harvick’s 12th win on a 1.5-mile track, second most among active drivers … Chase Elliott has never finished outside the top 10 in any of his NASCAR national series starts at Atlanta … David Ragan finished 23rd in his 400th Cup start.

POST-RACE INSPECTION:Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 Ford had one loose lug nut following the race. That penalty for that is a fine.

QUOTE OF THE RACE: “We got a late-race restart that we drove off and won the race with, so there are so many demons that seem to haunt us here for a long time, but the coolest part was being able to try to replicate that first win celebration.” – Kevin Harvick

WHAT’S NEXT: Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at 3:30 p.m. ET on March 4 on Fox.


NASCAR America: The challenges of Martinsville Speedway

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What Martinsville Speedway lacks in size compared to other tracks it makes up in difficulty say drivers and NASCAR America’s analysts.

Landon Cassill joined Carolyn Manno, Parker Kligerman and Jeff Burton on Thursday’s show and discussed the challenges of the half-mile paperclip track.

“It can be fun when it’s going well,’’ said Cassill, who will make his Cup season debut this weekend in the No. 00 for StarCom Racing. “That place, if you’re car is not handling well, you can end up going backwards and just by the time you’ve got some clear race track the leader is right behind you. So it can be frustration. I tend to like Martinsville.’’

Kligerman calls racing in the pack at Martinsville Speedway “the most aggressive racing I’ve ever been a part of in my life.’’

Jeff Burton said: “It’s … one of the hardest race tracks we go to period because you have to do it lap after lap after lap and it’s so easy to get, quite simply, just really, really mad at the guy you’re racing with because he’s hitting you and he’s banging on you.’’

Cup drivers have their description of the track. See what NASCAR America’s analysts and Cup drivers have to say about the track that hosts Sunday’s Cup race in the video above.

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Richard Childress Racing reinstates Xfinity crew chief Nick Harrison

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Richard Childress Racing has reinstated Nick Harrison to crew chief  of the No. 3 Xfinity team after he served a five-race suspension for a violation at Daytona International Speedway. 

Harrison’s first race back will be April 8 at Texas.

Harrison was suspended after the No. 3 car of Austin Dillon had a rear suspension violation in pre-qualifying inspection. Harrison and the team’s car chief were ejected by NASCAR after the violation. RCR imposed the suspension.

“I’m looking forward to being back with my team and winning races after my five-race suspension,” Harrison said in a statement from the team.

Brandon Thomas served as the interim crew chief while Harrison was out. Austin Dillon finished a season-best fourth for the team last weekend at Auto Club Speedway.

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NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Martinsville breakdown, Aric Almirola and Bubba Wallace

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and features host Carolyn Manno and Parker Kligerman in Stamford, Connecticut, and Jeff Burton and Landon Cassill from Burton’s Garage.

Among the topics today:

  •  Prepare for paint swapping, bent fenders, and bruised egos. It’s time to go short-track racing at Martinsville Speedway! Jeff, Parker and Landon will tell you what to expect this weekend at the famous half-mile. We’ll also see what it takes to succeed there, as Parker takes us for some quick laps in the NBCSN iRacing Simulator.
  • After making the switch to Stewart-Haas Racing in the offseason, Aric Almirola is off to the best start of his Cup Series career. Currently 10th in the standings, he’ll tell Marty Snider about his early season success.
  • Since finishing second at the Daytona 500, rookie driver Bubba Wallace has cooled off. Now he faces his first Cup Series start at Martinsville in the iconic No. 43 car, and he’s feeling confident — it’s where Wallace scored his first truck series win nearly five years ago. We’ll examine the struggles he might have to work through this season and also hear his reflections on his early years of racing in the latest edition of “A Driver’s Drive.”

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, you can also watch it via the online stream at http:/ If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

Weekend schedule for NASCAR at Martinsville Speedway

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NASCAR returns to its backyard this weekend after the three week West Coast swing.

The Cup and Camping World Truck Series visit Martinsville Speedway in Southern Virginia.

The weekend is capped off by Sunday’s STP 500. It will be the first Cup race broadcast on Fox Sports 1 this year.

Here’s the full weekend schedule complete with TV and radio info.

(All times are Eastern)

Friday, March 23

8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. — Truck garage opens

11:05 – 11:55 a.m. — Truck practice (No TV)

1:05 – 1:55 p.m. — Truck practice (Fox Sports 1)

3:05 – 3:55 p.m. — Final Truck practice (FS1)

Saturday, March 24

7 a.m. – 8 p.m. — Cup garage open

7:30 a.m. — Truck garage opens

10:05 – 10:55 a.m. — Cup practice (FS1, MRN)

11:05 a.m. — Truck qualifying; multi-truck/three rounds (FS1)

12:15 p.m. — Truck driver-crew chief meeting

12:30 – 1:20 p.m. — Final Cup practice (FS1, MRN)

1:30 p.m. — Truck driver introductions

2 p.m. — Alpha Energy Solutions 250; 250 laps/131.5 miles (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

5:10 p.m. — Cup qualifying; multi-car/three rounds (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, March 25

9:30 a.m. — Cup garage opens

Noon — Driver-crew chief meeting

1:20 p.m. — Driver introductions

2 p.m. — STP 500; 500 laps/263 miles (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)