Harvick dominates first stage at Atlanta

Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 polesitter Kevin Harvick led all but three laps in Stage 1 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday.

Harvick dominates first stage at Atlanta

Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top-five in the segment.

Logano and Jamie McMurray made contact on backstretch on the first lap. Newman passed Kyle Busch for second on Lap 6 and was bumped to third by Stenhouse Jr. on Lap 12. Cody Ware was the first car to be lapped when Kevin Harvick passed the No. 51 on Lap 14. Keselowski passed Truex for fourth on Lap 24 as the frontrunners approached lap traffic.

Earnhardt, who started 12th, gained two spots on Lap 27 as he passed both Kyle Busch and Trevor Bayne. Bayne regained the 12th spot three laps later.

Earnhardt pitted on Lap 33 but was busted for speeding. He served his drive-thru penalty on Lap 36 and dropped to 35th.

Harvick pitted from the lead on Lap 37 with Ricky Stenhouse Jr., enabling Ryan Newman to take the point. Newman relinquished the lead to pit on Lap 39. Harvick cycled back to the lead on Lap 40 with Keselowski, Elliott, Kurt Busch and Logano in tow.

Ryan Blaney was forced to make a second stop on Lap 47 for a tire shake.

By Lap 60, the top-five were Harvick, Keselowski, Elliott, Truex and Logano. Johnson moved into the top 12 after starting 18th.

On Lap 65, 20 cars remained on the lead lap as the second round of pit stops began. Earnhardt pitted on Lap 69 with a shredded right rear tire. He cycled out to 33rd. On Lap 70, Harvick lapped three-time Atlanta winner Kasey Kahne, who was running 18th at the time.

Crossing the line sixth through 10th after 85 laps at the green and white checker flag included Newman, Stenhouse Jr., Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson and Johnson.

Austin Dillon, Kurt Busch, Erik Jones, Trevor Bayne, Clint Bowyer, Jamie McMurray were the only other drivers remaining on the lead lap. The leaders pitted on Lap 88.

“These guys have done a great job of getting the balance right,” said Harvick, who held onto the lead after pit stops."

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