Saturday, September 18, 2021

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NXS: Kevin Harvick Scores Third Straight Atlanta Victory in Hisense 250

Joey Logano led practice and started on pole, and looked to have the fastest car. However, it still wouldn’t be enough to stop Kevin Harvick.

Kevin Harvick would take the lead on the final round of pit stops with 30 laps to go to score his third straight Atlanta victory in the Hisense 250. It marks his 45th career XFINITY victory. It also marks the first career victory for crew chief Dave Elenz, who joined JR Motorsports after serving as an engineer on Jimmie Johnson’s Sprint Cup Series team the past couple of seasons.

“The first thing I want to do is thank all the fans,” Harvick said in victory lane. “It’s been a cold weekend and to see the day turn out so nicely, and see that crowd out there is great for Atlanta Motor Speedway. that pit stop was what won us that race. Joey probably had a better car than we did, but the short run worked perfectly as we were able to get out there on that short run and win.”

Logano led early, but Harvick was able to get the lead under the first round of green flag pit stops. As the run went on, though, Logano would get by Harvick and take the lead. But once again, the tables were turned and Harvick was able to lead the last 27 laps.

“I thought his car was a little bit better as of lap 20 and he’d start reeling us in from that point,” Harvick commented. “Got to thank these JR Motorsports guys. Awesome pit stops all day long. We were able to make up ground on that pit stop and lead the rest of the way.”

Logano would finish second and was partially just glad to make it to the checkered as he felt he had a loose wheel.

“This is as close as anyone has been to beating Kevin here at Atlanta in a long time,” Logano said. “Got beat on pit road. Had a good restart and thought we could get him loose and get by. the 9 then gave him a shove that got him up front. Tried to run some different lines to get by him but wasn’t able to. The left rear was vibrating a lot – definitely had a loose wheel there. just got beat. That’s racing.”

Ty Dillon would finish third to tie Chris Busecher, who finished fourth, for the points lead.

“Oh yeah, I’m pumped,” Dillon said. “Still disappiointed with our qualifying effort but we had a great racecar. Great job by Danny Stockman all day. he’s been working hard all off-season with the guys. I think this is just a sign of what is to come this year.”

“That was a lot of fun,” Buescher commented. “Very close competition. Just really proud of my guys. Went through a lot last year between missing Daytona and coming back to finish second this year. Just thankful to have partners on board – it’s all coming together for us. Its shaping up to be a good season.”

Chase Elliott would fight back to finish fifth after getting loose while battling for second with Logano and falling back to eighth with 25 laps to go.

“I didn’t think it was good as we would’ve liked,” Elliott said. “I thought we were in a good spot on the last restart and got absolutely sideways in one and two. I guess it could’ve been a lot of worse. But I guess it was my mistake for trying to go too hard with those guys on the outside. I just was trying really hard to get by the 22 to have a shot. I feel like we had a fast car, but just didn’t get the job done myself.”

Paul Menard finished sixth, followed by Brian Scott and Matt Kenseth. Kenseth ran in the top-three throughout the day but was caught on pit road when the caution flew for fluid on the backstretch with 28 laps to go during the final round of pit stops.

“Thought we had a top three car all day, just had to pit a little early,” Kenseth said. “Just tried to make a call to get some track position and the caution comes out. I don’t know what it was but it was harder to pass here than other years.”

Regan Smith finished ninth, followed by Kyle Larson, Darrell Wallace Jr. and Brendan Gaughan. Only 10 cars finished on the lead lap.

“It was a fun day,” Wallace commented. “Just excited to be apart of the XFINITY Series with Roush Fenway Racing. Proud of the effort these guys gave me. Just rode around in the lucky dog spot for 80 laps. I had a lot of fun racing Brendan Gaughan all day. He told me with a rookie stripe that I should’ve just let him by – I told him that I didn’t see him behind me.”

Erik Jones would finish 13th in his first race behind the wheel of the No. 54 Monster Energy Camry as he subbed for Kyle Busch.

“It was a long day,” Jones reflected. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t the one that we would’ve started. Wish we could’ve started the day with how the car was handling at the end. We learned a lot. We’ll go back and get it better and hope to be stronger next time out.”

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