Had it not been for stage points, the 292 laps Kevin Harvick led at Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 wouldn’t have meant much.
Sunday marked the second race in the Monster Energy Cup Series where stage scoring was in place, and Harvick took full advantage by winning both stages, picking up 20 series points and two playoff bonus points.
Brad Keselowski and Chase Elliott took second and third in the first stage, while Elliott and Ryan Newman finished second and third in the second stage.
The three stage wins have Harvick in first place in the Monster Energy Cup Series points standings through two races.
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After a strong start, Unadilla native David Ragan put together a consistent race Sunday to finish 23rd.
Ragan had a strong first stage, climbing 15 spots from 34th to 19th. He dropped two spots in the second stage and two more spots before the race concluded.
It was Ragan’s best finish since placing 21st at last year’s Southern 500, and he finished nine spots better than he did last year at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Ragan is 30th in the points standings.
According to a FOX report before the race Sunday, Atlanta Motor Speedway owner Speedway Motorsports is rethinking its plans to repave the track.
Several drivers said during the weekend that they liked the track as is, as well as its current racing lines. The track ran loose in practice and qualifying, with Ragan brushing the wall on his first qualifying lap Friday.
“I think the way it is is better than the alternative,” Chase Elliott said. “I think it has a lot of character and puts on some good racing.”
Only one driver found the wall hard enough Sunday to force a caution, and there were no multi-car incidents.
“Don’t do it! Don’t do it!” Keselowski said jokingly. “It’s tough. All it takes is one race where there’s weepers, red flags and delays, and they’re in a no-win spot. Drivers hate repaves, but the reality is nothing lasts forever. This surface lasted a really long time, and they should be proud of that.”
FPD product and former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker was part of the celebrity host committee alongside grand marshal Ty Pennington and honorary pace car drivers Keith Brooking and Grady Jarrett. ... Ed Rowland and The Sweet Tea Project sang the national anthem. ... Sunday’s race was the 2,500th all-time conducted by NASCAR. ... Among other big-name drivers, Kyle Busch finished 15th, Danica Patrick 17th, two-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson 19th and Dale Earnhardt Jr. 30th.