Harvick led the most laps at Atlanta but ended up one restart away from the win.
HAMPTON, Ga. – In the early stages of the Folds of Honor 500, it appeared the race would unfold into another battle between Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano.
Similar to Saturday’s XFINITY Series romp, Harvick and Logano dominated the first half of the race - leading 162 of the first 176 laps. Logano logged 84 laps at the point, but faded and eventually finished fourth.
Harvick finished second. However, the defending Sprint Cup Champion, did not go down without a fight. Yet at the end, he could not catch race winner Jimmie Johnson, who bested Harvick at the finish line by 1.802-seconds.
Still, Harvick characterized his performance as “a solid day”.
You put yourself in that position, you'll be able to win races.
“Everybody on our team did a great job,” Harvick said. “Jimmie really got rolling there halfway through the race. We had a heck of a race, had a lot of fun out there racing with him, trading the lead back and forth several times.
"All in all it was a good, solid day. I know everybody wants to win. We just have to keep doing what we're doing. You put yourself in that position, you'll be able to win races."
Coming through the field
Harvick’s ascent on Sunday was far from an easy task. After qualifying second on Friday, the engine blew in the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevy during Happy Hour and he was forced to start from the rear of the pack. He came from 43rd to 34th in the first circuit and into the top 25 by Lap 7. Harvick advanced to 16th, 20 laps into the race.
By the competition caution on Lap 26, the No. 4 entered the pits 13th and exited in the top 10. When the second caution was called for debris on Lap 47, Harvick had climbed into the top five where he remained the rest of the day.
Initially, Harvick passed Logano for the lead on Lap 85 between Turns 3 and 4. He led a race-high 116 laps but a bad restart after the seventh caution (Lap 257) and getting jammed behind Brett Moffitt, who spun the tires on the No. 55 Toyota coming to the green flag on Lap 305, stalled Harvick’s progress in the closing laps of the race.
“I had one bad restart on the outside where I spun the tires, fell back to fifth or sixth, never quite recovered that, then got stuck behind the 55 when they stayed out on tires,"Harvick said. "Just never made those spots up.”
Still, Harvick acknowledged the race was “a lot of fun”.
“As a driver, you look at this place that you have options,” Harvick said. “You know you can pass people. There's a lot of places you go to you're going to get stuck, you're going to have the aero push, have a harder time with it than you will here.
“It was a lot of fun coming up through there. Jimmie was right up in front of me coming up through the pack. We made it to 13th or 14th on the first run in about 20 laps. It was fun.”
Harvick earned his sixth top five and his 10th top 10 in 25 starts at Atlanta. He is third in the Sprint Cup point standings, two points behind leader Logano.