Kevin Harvick wins Atlanta Happy Hour, loses engine, will drop to rear
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick has had a fast No. 4 Chevrolet all weekend long, topping the speed charts in Saturday’s final Sprint Cup Series practice at Atlanta Motor Speedway with a lap at 191.054 mph.
Harvick qualified second for Sunday’s race and was second-quick in Friday’s lone practice session after being third in both sessions during Thursday’s test.
However, the reigning series champion will not start Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at the front of the field. The Hendrick-built engine in Harvick’s car let go 35 minutes into final practice, ending Harvick’s practice early and forcing the team to swap out motors.
"This is a very rare occasion," Harvick said after talking with representatives from the Hendrick Motorsports engine department. "This is the first one (blown engine) I have ever had. The engine shop does a great job. I am just glad that it happened today. Our Jimmy John’s/Budweiser team is doing a great job and the car is handling good. If we were going to have something happen, this is a good place to have it happen because you can pass."
Due to the engine failure, Harvick will have to start Sunday’s race from the rear where he will join Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart, all of whom were among 13 drivers whose cars failed to clear NASCAR technical inspection before Friday night’s first round of knockout qualifying.
Last year’s Atlanta winner, Kasey Kahne, was second fastest in the weekend’s final practice session, followed by Austin Dillon, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, AJ Allmendinger, Johnson, Clint Bowyer, Casey Mears and Jamie McMurray.