HAMPTON, Ga. – Kevin Harvick was able to hold off a furious charge from Kyle Busch to win Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Great Clips/Grit Chips 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Harvick, driving the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro, had the dominant car all day. He looked like he was on his way to an easy victory, but a crash by Jeff Green on the front stretch with 14 laps left brought the field back to him.
The nine lead-lap cars all came down pit road under the caution period for fresh tires and Harvick was barely able to beat Joey Logano off pit road to maintain the race lead. Busch, Austin Dillon and Kasey Kahne followed.
The field returned to racing on lap 188. Second-place Logano spun his tires on the restart, allowing Busch to clear him on the inside and quickly move to the outside and challenge Harvick for the lead.
The two Sprint Cup veterans raced side-by-side for two laps before Harvick was finally able to clear Busch for the race lead coming out of turn four with six laps left. Busch didn’t give up, staying right behind Harvick as the laps clicked off.
Busch took his last shot entering turn one on the last lap, getting right behind Harvick in an attempt to get Harvick’s Chevrolet loose. The attempt failed and Harvick was able to pull away from Busch down the backstretch. Harvick beat Busch to the finish line by .580 of a second to score the victory.
“We were definitely too tight, I just had to change my approach there at the end,” said Harvick, who thought he had a loose wheel in the laps before Green’s crash. “I knew Kyle was going to go for it but it’s fun racing with him.
“That’s two years in a row, actually three years in a row, that we’ve had a dominant car. You think something is going to go wrong, but we just kept digging and these guys did a great job all weekend,” Harvick said.
Busch, who bounced his Toyota off the wall earlier in the race, came up just short of his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory at AMS.
“Just a little short. I was too tight after I got in the fence and the last couple of runs there I was having a hard time holding it where I needed to,” Busch said. “There at the end the last, I don’t know, whatever that last run was, I was already tight and we even freed it up for that.”
Sam Hornish Jr. finished third to maintain his lead in the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship standings. Kasey Kahne and Kyle Larson completed the top five, with Logano finishing sixth after restarting second during the final restart.