Harvick In Atlanta Winner’s Circle Again

HAMPTON, Ga. — Brand new truck. Same old result.

Driving a No. 2 Chevrolet that saw its first action this weekend at Atlanta, Kevin Harvick dominated Saturday's E-Z-Go 200 to win for the third time in his last three starts in NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series.

2010 Atlanta1 NCWTS Kevin Harvick Victory Lane Kevin Harvick celebrates in Victory Lane – Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR

In a race that saw several championship contenders fall by the wayside, Harvick crossed the stripe 1.308 seconds ahead of Kyle Busch at the end of a 14-lap green-flag dash to the finish. Aric Almirola came home third, followed by Steve Wallace, the 25th driver to register a top-five in his first race in the series.

Todd Bodine survived a spin to finish fifth. Ricky Carmichael, Timothy Peters, Johnny Sauter, Rick Crawford and rookie Austin Dillon completed the top 10.

2010 Atlanta1 NCWTS pole Ron Hornaday Jr KHI Driver Ron Hornaday Jr. was on the pole but fell out early after a tire rub led to an accident – Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR

Harvick said his occasional appearances in the truck series are designed to "protect his turf" and keep Busch out of victory lane as often as possible. To that end, Kevin Harvick Inc. builds new trucks for its owner and teammate Ron Hornaday Jr. to drive. Used trucks are sold to other teams.

"We probably have a third of the field out on the racetrack," Harvick said. "That's how we make truck racing work. We have a lot of customers that we hang bodies for and give a lot of technical support for, and that's what keeps our team going.

2010 Atlanta1 NCWTS qualify Steve WallaceSteve Wallace made his first truck series start with an impressive finish of forth -  Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR 

"If they want this one (Saturday's winning truck), they can come have this one, too."

Busch recorded the best finish for his fledgling Kyle Busch Motorsports team, which was formed during the offseason.

"We weren't quite as fast as we would have liked to have been, but we're not sure if that came from our damage early in the race on Lap 1 or not," Busch said. "We still had a real decent effort, and I'm real proud of the way the KBM team ran today, with myself and the way (teammate) Tayler (Malsam) came up through there."

2010 Atlanta1 NCWTS green flag
Pole Sitter Ron Hornaday Jr. leads Kyle Busch to the Green Flag - Brian Lawdermilk/HHP - Pool/Getty Images for NASCAR

Malsam ran well in the second half of the race, but an off-sequence pit stop dropped him to 13th at the finish.

Four-time series champion Ron Hornaday Jr., who won the pole for Saturday's race, took another body blow against the defense of his 2009 title when a blown left rear tire shot his No. 33 Chevrolet backwards into the Turn 4 wall. Hornaday, who opened the season with a 27th-place finish at Daytona last month, was credited with a 34th place result at Atlanta.

Hornaday's troubles started, however, at the start of the race, when Matt Crafton took Hornaday and Busch three-wide moments after the green flag. The right front of Busch's Toyota rubbed the left rear of Hornaday's Chevy, damaging both vehicles.

2010 Atlanta1 NCWTS doublewide restartBusch and Harvick battle for the lead – John Harrelson/Getty Images 

Harvick inspected a tire rub on the No. 33 and told Hornaday he thought the tire would last. Harvick was wrong, and Hornaday slammed the wall when the tire blew, injuring his truck beyond repair.

"Hate to see it, but we had a good truck, and we'll come back," Hornaday said after leaving the infield care center. "Kyle and I spun our tires a little (at the start) and that's what got (Crafton) the run."

Crafton, who finished second to Hornaday in the series standings last year, had his own succession of problems. On Lap 60, Crafton slipped in Turn 2 and collected the Toyota of Bodine, who remained on the lead lap despite the accident.

2010 Atlanta1 NCWTS Kyle Busch pit stop The Kyle Busch Motorsports team executes at pit stop at Atlanta – Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images

A cut tire on Lap 69 sent Crafton hard into the Turn 2 wall for the second time and ended his race. He finished 27th and dropped from fifth to eighth in the series standings.

Notes: The win gave Harvick victories at Atlanta in all three of NASCAR's top touring series—trucks, Nationwide and Sprint Cup. He also has accomplished the feat at Phoenix, where he won the truck race last November to start his current streak of three wins in three straight starts. … Busch posted his sixth top 10 in six races at Atlanta. … Bodine took the series lead from Peters, who trails by four points through two races.

Recap via Reid Spencer: Sporting News Wire Service

Final Results: E-Z-GO 200
  1. Kevin Harvick
  2. Kyle Busch
  3. Aric Almirola
  4. Steve Wallace
  5. Todd Bodine
  6. Ricky Carmichael
  7. Timothy Peters
  8. Johnny Sauter
  9. Rick Crawford
  10. Austin Dillon
  11. Jason White
  12. Brad Sweet
  13. Tayler Malsam
  14. Mike Skinner
  15. David Starr
  16. Donny Lia
  17. Chris Fontaine
  18. Ryan Sieg
  19. Stacy Compton
  20. Justin Lofton
  21. Jennifer Jo Cobb
  22. Mario Gosselin
  23. Brett Butler
  24. Donnie Neuenberger
  25. Norm Benning
  26. Geoff Bodine
  27. Matt Crafton
  28. Shane Sieg
  29. Dennis Setzer
  30. Ryan Hackett
  31. Tim Bainey Jr.
  32. Butch Miller
  33. Brent Raymer
  34. Ron Hornaday
  35. Chad McCumbee
  36. Mike Harmon
Harvick In Atlanta Winner’s Circle Again Harvick In Atlanta Winner’s Circle Again Reviewed by Admin on Sunday, March 07, 2010 Rating: 5