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‘Snake bitten’ Kevin Harvick suffers another heartbreak at Atlanta
- Updated: March 5, 2017
By Yvonne Jones, Staff Writer
HAMPTON, Ga. — Kevin Harvick continues to have dominant cars at Atlanta Motor Speedway but nothing to show for it.
Sunday marked the latest debacle for the driver of the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Ford after leading 292 of the 325 laps in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500. Harvick started on the pole, his third time on the front row in the past four events at AMS.
Harvick won the first two stages and looked as if he would run away with the thing, but was busted for speeding while leading with 14 laps to go.
“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,” he said. “That part is hard for me to follow.
In the last four trips to Atlanta, Harvick has racked up a total of 734 laps with finishes of 19th, 2nd, 6th and 9th. In 2014, Harvick nearly hit a creature that crossed in front of him while leading early in the race. On Sunday, he picked up the 13th and final pit speed penalty of the event.
“Ya, this place, for whatever reason, I just feel like I’m snake bitten,” said Harvick, whose lone win at AMS in 2001 while with Richard Childress Racing.
“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.”
The Bakersfield, California native was pleased with his car after rallying for a 9th-place finish.
“The good part about it is our Ford has been really fast,” Harvick said. “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.”
Harvick also has to be enjoying the new format of competing in stages. He leads the points standings by four points over SHR teammate Kurt Busch thanks to his victories in three stages. He earned 48 points for coming home 9th compared to Kyle Larson, who ended up with 43 for his 2nd-place effort.
Harvick’s misfortunate though was fellow Ford driver Brad Keselowski’s gain. It made the manufacturer two-for-two to start the season. Roger Penske, owner of Keselowski No. 2 car, thinks Ford is ahead of class.
“Well, as you know, we made the move to Ford several years ago, and they said they were going to bring on Stewart‑Haas and we said that’s great because we really get some teammates, we’ve got benchmark, and certainly today my heart goes out to Kevin, certainly as he led the race, controlled it and then had that issue,” Penske said.