Kevin Harvick Dominates at the Atlanta Motor Speedway
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup champion Kevin Harvick honors and salutes the late great Dale Earnhardt Sr. once again in Atlanta.
The Atlanta Motor Speedway may have looked a bit old and dated, but Kevin Harvick appeared young and fresh as he captured his second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win at the speedway. Riding off the success of winning the Xfinity Series race the day prior, Harvick completed the rare weekend sweep and returned to the winner’s circle for the second day in a row—this time in NASCAR’s premier series.
Rain may have delayed the start of the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, but the 2014 NASCAR Cup champion was not fazed. Seventeen years after winning his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, Harvick was elated to take the victory lap while doing a three-finger salute to honor the late Dale Earnhardt Sr.
“You see that 3 back in Victory Lane and us back in Victory Lane tonight, it's just almost—it's just how it's meant to be,” said Harvick. “I think for me, to be able to kind of do that celebration again, very similar to what we did in 2001, I've been waiting a long time because 2001 was very confusing. It was my first win and don't feel like I remember really anything about it because it was just such a really confusing time in my life, and just on the racetrack and with Dale gone and getting in his car, not with my team that I had built over the last couple years at RCR, and I raced so much in 2001 that you didn't really see the repercussions of everything that had happened until 2002, and we were terrible in 2002.”
VIDEO: Kevin Harvick's Emotional First NSCS Victory
17 years in the Making
After the untimely death of Dale Earnhardt Sr. in 2001, Harvick was tapped by the team owner Richard Childress to replace the driver affectionately known as “The Intimidator.” Richard Childress Racing had planned for Harvick to get behind the wheel of another car, but with the death of Earnhardt Sr., Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were seemingly forced to carry the weight of the sport. Harvick went on to capture his first career win three weeks later in what was at the time called the Winston Cup (now the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series) three weeks later.
Harvick has led the most laps for five straight races at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Ironically, the 1.54-mile speedway has not been repaved since 1997. That’s four years prior to Harvick’s first Cup win at the track in 2001. From the start of the race, it was clear it was Harvick’s race to lose. On the heels of Austin Dillon returning the No. 3 back to Victory Lane at Daytona for his grandfather and team owner Richard Childress, some can argue that Harvick’s Atlanta win was meant to be. “Kevin is just really good at it [Atlanta],” said Joey Logano before the race.