Thursday, Sep 28

Harvick holds off Busch at Atlanta

NASCAR Wire Service Saturday, Aug 31 1419

In a thrilling head-to-head battle against pole winner Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick kept Busch behind him during a seven-lap run to the finish of Saturday night's Great Clips/Grit Chips 300 Nationwide Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Harvick beat Busch to the finish line by .580 of a second after clearing the No. 54 Toyota with five laps left. The narrow loss kept Busch winless in the Nationwide Series at the 1.54-mile speedway and broke a streak of wins from the pole by the Joe Gibbs Racing driver.

Busch had been six-for-six this season in converting poles into victories before Saturday's race.

The win was Harvick's first of the season in seven starts, his second at Atlanta and the 40th of his career.

Series leader Sam Hornish Jr. ran third, followed by Kasey Kahne and rookie Kyle Larson.

A caution on lap 104 for debris on the backstretch erased a seven-second lead that Harvick had built through a cycle of green-flag pit stops around the race's midpoint. Undeterred, Harvick pulled away after the ensuing restart on lap 109 and owned a lead of more than five seconds when the next cycle of green-flag stops began on Lap 143.

Harvick was the last of the top three to come to pit road (lap 148), and by the time the field cycled through, his advantage over Joey Logano, then running second, had dwindled to .9 of a second.

Stretching his margin to as much as 1.9 seconds, Harvick was comfortably ahead when Jeff Green's hard crash into the outside wall in the tri-oval on Lap 182 caused the fourth caution of the night.

That set up the final seven-lap green-flag run after four-tire pit stops for the leaders, with Busch surging into second moments after the restart and battling side by side with Harvick before the driver of the No. 33 Chevrolet finally pulled ahead


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