HAMPTON, Ga. — A miscue by Kevin Harvick on a late restart allowed Brad Keselowski to sneak through and win the second stage of Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Keselowski led 21 of 85 laps during the stage, including the final 10, to capture his ninth-career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series stage win, first of the year and first at Atlanta.
After winning last year’s Atlanta Cup race, Keselowski is hopeful of a repeat, but knows he’ll have to hold off Harvick to do so.
“It always seems like Kevin (Harvick) is really, really strong here every year; I don’t know what his secret is, but we’re fighting pretty hard too,” said Keselowski. “I feel like we’re nipping at his heels. We’re gonna keep him honest and give it a run.”
“We’re having a pretty good day out here. It’s been pretty sporty so far.”
Brad Keselowski led the field back to the green flag at lap 94 for the start of the second stage, after a slow pit stop for opening stage winner Kevin Harvick dropped him to 19th, but it was Harvick’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kurt Busch who drove from sixth to the lead in just eight laps after the restart.
Busch quickly opened up a one second lead over Keselowski, but behind him, Harvick climbed into the top 10 on the 105th round and methodically picked his way back to third on lap 121 after passing Martin Truex Jr.
It wasn’t five laps later that Harvick was back in the lead, going three-wide with Busch and Keselowski for an instant on lap 125 before taking second from Keselowski in turns three and four, passing his teammate on the bottom of turn one the next time by to reassert his dominance.
Following a quick cycle of pit stops for four fresh tires, Harvick cycled back to the lead on lap 131 and carried it all the way until a caution with 12 to go in the stage, when Jimmie Johnson spun off turn two.
That pulled all the frontrunners down pit road and saw Keselowski beat Harvick off pit road, a position that the Michigan native held all the way to the green-checkered flag after Harvick spun the tires on the restart with seven to go.
Kurt Busch crossed the line in second, .774 of a second behind Keselowski, followed by brother Kyle in third.
Joey Logano and Harvick completed the top five, followed by Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Aric Almirola, Clint Bowyer and Daniel Suarez among the points-scoring drivers in the top 10 at the second stage break.
After enduring a two-and-a-half hour rain delay before the initial start, the race is now official, no matter what happens in the final 155 laps.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 24-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
Email Jacob at: email@example.com
Email Race Chaser Online: firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow RCO on Twitter: @RaceChaserNews