There is bad luck and then there is Kevin Harvick’s luck at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Heading into Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500, Harvick had been the dominant car in the three previous races at the track, leading the most laps in each of those events, but failing to capture the victory at the end of the day for various reasons, whether it be a bad restart, a bad pit stop, or something else.
On Sunday, Harvick once again found himself in the catbird seat after winning the pole for the race and establishing himself as the car to beat from the drop of the green flag. Harvick’s No. 4 Ford was absolutely untouchable for the majority of the race, leading 293 laps, only giving up the lead during pit stop cycles, and winning the first two stages of the race.
However, when Austin Dillon’s car lost power and brought out the caution on lap 311, everything changed.
Under caution, Harvick led the field down pit road for the final pit stops of the day and though his team got him off of pit road in the lead, word came down from NASCAR shortly thereafter that Harvick had sped entering pit road, causing him to drop to the tail end of the longest line for the restart.
On the subsequent restart, Harvick drove like a man on a mission trying to make up the lost track position after restarting 19th, but was only able to make it back to ninth place when the checkered flag flew.
“This place, for whatever reason, I just feel like I’m snake bitten,” said Harvick. “It’s my own doing today. I really didn’t think I was even close on pit lane. It gets to bouncing around, I thought I was being conservative, apparently I wasn’t. I want to thank everyone on our Jimmy Johns Ford for everything they did this weekend. I was just pushing it too hard.”
“I just made a mistake that I preach all the time that you don’t need to make and beat yourself and then you go out and make it yourself instead of following all the things you preach. That part is hard for me to follow. The good part about it is our Ford has been really fast. We didn’t know what we were going to have when we got here and we had a great weekend the whole time. Man, I just, one way or another I have figured out how to lose races here at Atlanta after being so dominant. We will pick ‘em up and start again next week.”
Despite not getting the win, there is a bright side for Harvick leaving Atlanta as he is now the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points leader heading to next week’s race at Las Vegas.