After taking the lead away from teammate Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick would not relinquish it en route to a huge win in the Great Clips 300 in Atlanta. Not only did Harvick dominate, he also set the bar high for himself heading into the Sprint Cup race on Sunday.
NASCAR provided a look at the final result for Harvick in Atlanta:
Harvick and Elliott were the only drivers to lead any laps throughout the event, as the duo blistered the rest of the field. While Elliott still punched a top-five finish, no one was able to run down Harvick on Saturday night.
Matt Weaver of PopularSpeed.com noted Harvick's ridiculous performance:
Kevin Harvick leads the final 159 laps ... destroys the field to win the Atlanta Nationwide Series race.— Matt Weaver (@MattWeaverSBN) August 31, 2014
Fellow Sprint Cup driver Aric Almirola also offered his thoughts on Harvick:
Everytime you pull into Atlanta you can bet the bank you're going to have to beat @KevinHarvick in any series. Dudes exceptional here— Aric Almirola (@aric_almirola) August 31, 2014
Just behind Harvick throughout the night, Joey Logano, Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five ahead of Elliott. The three Sprint Cup regulars each got a tuneup on Saturday but will need a better run on Sunday to surpass Harvick.
With the Atlanta race results now official, here's a look at the final order and updated standings for the Nationwide Series. Full race results can be found on NASCAR.com.
|Pos.||Driver||Points||Wins||Top 5||Top 10|
Early on in the race, JR Motorsports drivers were dominant just as they were at the end of the night.
Elliott, who started from the pole, and Harvick traded off the lead for the first 100 laps. While Elliott took 36 of those laps, Harvick ran away with 64 as he separated from the pack and never looked back.
Near the midway point of the race, Fox Sports: NASCAR provided an update on Harvick's lead:
Jim Utter of The Charlotte Observer compared Harvick's blistering run to another explosive college football team just miles away in Athens:
Kevin Harvick's domination almost as bad as Georgia's over Clemson— Jim Utter (@jim_utter) August 31, 2014
Harvick may have been comfortable with his car, but Elliott was having slight issues, despite running near the top. Rarely falling outside of the top three, the pole-sitter was limited throughout the race riding the top line.
The JR Motorsports Twitter account provided comments from the driver and updates later in the race:
"Man I'm sideways up top, having to run the bottom." @chaseelliott says on lap 26— JR Motorsports (@JRMotorsports) August 31, 2014
"We are definitely better here." @chaseelliott— JR Motorsports (@JRMotorsports) August 31, 2014
Elliott was never able to surpass Harvick again, but he clearly recovered from the issues as he remained a huge factor in Atlanta. Capturing yet another top-10 finish keeps him atop the points standings for now, while teammate Regan Smith also had a strong result.
But a late mistake would cost him a potentially better finish. The 18-year-old overshot his pit stall and lost position to the leaders, as Bob Pockrass of Sporting News notes:
Chase Elliott overshot his pit ... fell to sixth. #nascar— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) August 31, 2014
Not much would change from the start as Harvick remained the story throughout the race. With the top four drivers all racing again on Sunday, each driver proved he will be tough competition in the Sprint Cup field.
Will Harvick sweep with a Sprint Cup win on Sunday?
Along with dominating the Nationwide event, Harvick holds the pole for Sunday's race. Needless to say, this has the makings of a special weekend for the driver.
Following the Great Clips 300, just nine more races remain on the 2014 season. As the year winds down for the Nationwide Series, the next event will see the circuit return to Richmond on Friday night.
With Harvick winning the first event and Elliott narrowly missing out on a win, it will likely be a JRM show yet again. But thanks to a loaded field of Sprint Cup regulars in town for the weekend, expect it to be another wide-open race under the lights of Richmond.
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