Jimmy John's Driver Leads Race-High 131 Laps
Date: Feb. 28, 2016
Event: Folds of Honor 500 (Round 2 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Atlanta Motor Speedway (1.54-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 6th/6th (Running, completed 330 of 330 laps)
Point Standing: 3rd with 74 points
Winner: Jimmie Johnson of Hendrick Motorsports in overtime (Chevrolet)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), delivered a dominant performance on Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but was shuffled back on the final restart to finish sixth in the Folds of Honor 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Harvick earned his second top-10 of 2016 and his 11th top-10 in 26 career Sprint Cup Series starts at Atlanta.
Harvick started from the sixth position and raced his way up to fourth before bringing the No. 4 Chevrolet to pit road for a tire issue on lap 38. After a four-tire stop and a chassis adjustment, Harvick returned to the racetrack and was up to third by lap 43.
The 2014 Sprint Cup Series champion took the lead for the first time on lap 116 and went on to lead nine times for a race-high 131 laps. Harvick has led 100 laps or more in four of his last five starts at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Harvick gave up the lead to come to pit road under green-flag conditions on lap 285 for four tires and fuel, but Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team short-pitted and came away with a nearly 12-second advantage following the stop. Harvick was able to cut the lead to less than six seconds before the final caution of the day on lap 323.
The Bakersfield, California, native brought the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet to pit road for four fresh tires during the caution and returned to the track in the second position on the outside of the front row. Harvick attempted to gain an advantage on the outside as the field returned to green, but instead he got shuffled back after several cars made it three-wide on the restart. The No. 4 Chevrolet crossed the finish line in the sixth position after a wreck on the frontstretch forced the race to end under caution.
“We had issues about the last three runs,” said Harvick, who won his first Sprint Cup race at Atlanta in 2001. “I had to start driving the car different. It just required a little bit different handling. And then we had a slow pit stop there. We got way behind and the No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) was way out front, and I had to drive the car really hard and got the right rear burned up. We just didn’t execute today, but everybody on our Jimmy John’s/Busch Chevrolet hung in there all day, and we’ll keep at it.”
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, led the four-car SHR contingent Sunday at Atlanta.
Busch started from the pole position and led three times for 62 laps en route to his sixth top-five in 25 career Sprint Cup starts at Atlanta. It was also his 117th top-five in 542 career Sprint Cup starts.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Aspen Dental Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 20th. It was Patrick’s 120th career Sprint Cup start and her fifth at Atlanta.
Ty Dillon, interim driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet SS for SHR as he subs for the injured Tony Stewart, finished 17th.
Jimmie Johnson won the Folds of Honor 500 to score his 76th career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his fifth at Atlanta.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 1.242 seconds behind Johnson in the runner-up spot, while Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards rounded out the top-five. Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were three caution periods for 13 laps during the 325-lap race, which went into overtime and was extended by five laps to 330.
With round two of 36 complete, Harvick leads SHR in the championship point standings. He is third with 74 points, four behind first-place Kyle Busch. Kurt Busch is seventh with 69 points, nine out of first. Danica Patrick is 29th with 27 points, 51 out of first. Dillon is ineligible for driver points in this series.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Kobalt 400 on Sunday, March 6, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The race starts at 3:30 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its prerace show at 3 p.m.