Kevin Harvick earns first Atlanta Cup win since 2001

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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.