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Brad Keselowski earns victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway

20 March 2017, 06:47 | Joan Schultz

Brad Keselowski earns victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway

First NASCAR race

Harvick's No.4 Ford was the class of the field.

Ryan Newman somehow beat the clock at Daytona with a terribly damaged auto, and was completely in the way when the leaders caught him inside the final 10 laps. He swept the first two stages of the event easily. When drivers leave the main track and enter pit road, there is a speed limit, which varies from track to track. After all, it's hard to cast blame on someone when you were the one caught speeding.

And that's exactly what happened.

Thanks to the stage format, Harvick, who hustled back to a ninth-place finish, emerged with 48 points versus the 53 earned by Keselowski, who survived an error by his Team Penske pit crew earlier to come back for the victory in the final run to the checkered flag.

So does Busch give up a few points in a stage, where the top 10 get regular-season points, for track position at the start of the next stage?

Brad Keselowski, who inherited the victory when Harvick was penalized, was asked 16 questions before somebody mentioned the new format during his postrace news conference. Larson got out front for a couple laps, but Brad Keselowski was able to find some speed and battled the lead away with 7 laps to go. Photo by Zach Darrow. And with just 12 sets of tries allowed, teams now must use strategy to make sure they have at least one set ready for the stretch drive. Here's hoping the next time a win slips away because of something that happens to the auto outside of his control, Harvick remembers what happened at Atlanta. "But until we really get into side drafting and trying to free people up from behind them or alongside of their quarter-panel I don't know if I have a good read on it yet".

"You know, obviously Goodyear tires just aren't very good at holding air", an upset Busch said after the incident. A great winning percentage at this level is one out of every 10 races, and one out of every 10 races, if you can pull that off, you're a Hall of Famer. "I think that had him on a little bit of an edge there on that last (stop)".

After Harvick's costly mistake, Kyle Larson inherited the lead in his No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford - but he appeared to make his own mistake shortly thereafter, drifting up to take the high line on a day when the bottom seemed to have been working for him.

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"I really hate it for everybody on this Jimmy Johns Ford", Harvick disappointingly exclaimed on FOX after the race. "And when he told me to pit because there was a lug nut loose, I pitted and I didn't second-guess him". "They put a great vehicle under me and we did everything I thought we needed to do".

Larson, Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne and Chase Elliott rounded out the top-five finishers.

"We've had races where we've led a bunch of laps and things fall apart at the end", Keselowski said Sunday evening, savoring the 22nd victory of his career with his almost 2-year-old daughter, Scarlett, crawling around on the floor of the media center.

Harvick wasn't the only driver who thought he wasn't speeding either.

The only thing Harvick could say to his team after the speeding penalty, "I am so sorry, guys".

"I'm just going down and hooking the corner just like Mesa Marin", Harvick said over the radio during his domination.

Crashes plagued the Daytona 500. I just didn't have enough grip - or not as much as I'd hoped. Speeding penalties plagued the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.

Bruton Smith, owner of Speedway Motorsports Inc., which includes Las Vegas, Charlotte and six other racetracks, has long expressed interest in having the last race of the NASCAR season in Las Vegas.



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