HAMPTON, Ga. – In a reprise of the celebration of his first win in Atlanta in 2001, Kevin Harvick raised his three-finger salute to Earnhardt following his dominant victory Sunday in the rain-delayed NASCAR Monster Energy Cup race.
Harvick completed his weekend mastery of Atlanta Motor Speedway by holding off Brad Keselowski following a late restart.
Then he held the three fingers out the window, just as he did in 2001 when he gave the Richard Childress team an Atlanta win following the death of Dale Earnhardt in Daytona a few weeks earlier. The young Harvick took over Earnhardt’s car, with a new No. 29.
Ending five years of frustration in Cup races in Atlanta was satisfying, but Harvick said “the coolest part was being able to try to replicate that first win celebration.”
Harvick led 915 laps in Cup races in Atlanta over the past five years — including 181 on Sunday — but endured the long wait for his second win at the track. It brought back memories.
“That was the first win in my career, and to be able to do that and pay tribute to Dale was pretty cool,” Harvick said. “I’ve been waiting a long time to do that.”
He said he was emotional Sunday because he was moved to see his team so happy.
“For me there was just a lot of happiness,” Harvick said, adding, “There’s nothing better than seeing all those guys smile.”
The win came one week after Austin Dillon, who now has the No. 3 that Earnhardt made famous, won the Daytona 500.
Clint Bowyer finished third, giving Ford drivers the top three spots. Denny Hamlin was fourth.