Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) co-owner Kevin Harvick returned to the driver’s seat of the No. 33 Rheem Chevrolet Impala for the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The two-time series champion started from the eighth position and led five times for 31 laps before crossing the finish line in fourth.
With the wave of the green flag, the 195-lap event began, and Harvick immediately moved forward. After 10 laps, the driver had the No. 33 Rheem Chevrolet in the fifth position.
By lap 30, Harvick reached the fourth position. Not long after settling into the spot, NASCAR waved the caution flag for the first time for an accident on lap 42. As the field slowed, Harvick radioed to the KHI crew that his Chevrolet was loose as he maneuvered around the 1.5-mile track. Crew chief Chris Carrier brought the driver to pit road for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. The quick work by the Rheem crew put the No. 33 in the second position for the lap 47 restart.
As the field powered back to full speed, Harvick fought in a three-wide battle for the lead. After several laps of close door-to-door racing, the driver moved into the top spot and remained there until the second caution on lap 68. Harvick relayed to his crew that the No. 33 Rheem Chevrolet was still loose. Using the caution to their advantage, he made the trip to pit road for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment to alleviate the handling issues. Harvick left pit road second, and the field resumed green-flag conditions on lap 74.
Quickly after the race returned to green, the yellow caution lights flashed for a third time for a car spinning out of turn four. Harvick remained on track and took the lap 82 restart in the third position. The No. 33 Rheem machine slid back to the fourth position over the course of the green-flag run but returned to the third position as scheduled green-flag pit stops began at the lap 120 mark. On lap 125, Harvick brought his Chevrolet to pit road for the team’s next scheduled stop. The KHI crew bolted on four tires, added fuel and made a chassis adjustment before sending Harvick back onto the track where he resumed racing in the third spot.
The race was slowed for a caution for the fourth time on lap 132 as the No. 14 car got into the wall. Harvick remained on track and moved into the first position as the race leaders opted to make a pit stop during the caution. He led the field back to green on lap 139 and fought in a three-car pack to keep the lead, but soon settled into the second position as the race reached less than 50 laps to go.
On lap 163, an accident in turn two brought out the night’s fifth caution with the No. 33 Rheem Chevrolet holding the third spot. The crew called Harvick to pit road for four tires, fuel and both chassis and air-pressure adjustments. Another solid pit stop by the team placed the KHI entry in the second position for the lap 167 restart.
Back under green, Harvick bolted from the second position to the lead. The sixth and final caution fell on lap 169 for a multi-car accident. After the quick caution, Harvick led the field back to green with 19 laps to go. As the final laps wound down, the Rheem Chevrolet became increasingly tight. Harvick slid to the fourth position where he stayed to the checkered flag.
The No. 33 team heads to Richmond International Raceway with Harvick behind the wheel. Tune in to ESPN at 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday, September 9 and listen to MRN beginning at 7:15 p.m. ET.