HAMPTON, Ga. — There’s an arrest warrant out for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — or perhaps there should be — after the defending NASCAR Nationwide Series champion stole Saturday night’s NRA American Warrior 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Stenhouse grabbed the lead from Kevin Harvick on the final lap, after a restart with three laps remaining. Contact between the cars of Danica Patrick and James Buescher caused the eighth and final caution and set up the three-lap run to the finish.
Brad Keselowski, on fresh tires, passed Harvick for the second spot. Harvick ran third, followed by Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier.
Before the final restart, however, Harvick had the race in hand, leading 157 laps and opening an advantage that exceeded 16 seconds at one point.
Emblematic of Harvick’s dominance was a restart on Lap 127. Travis Pastrana had stayed out under caution for Eric McClure’s brush with the Turn 2 wall and led the first laps of his Nationwide career under yellow.
Under green? Another matter. Pastrana led the field to the restart, but before the field cleared Turn 2, Harvick had powered from fifth to first, as Stenhouse tried in vain to keep pace.
Harvick lost the lead briefly during a cycle of green-flag pit stops late in the race, but he was back in front for a restart on Lap 188, after NASCAR called the seventh caution of the night on Lap 182 of 195 for debris in Turn 1.
After the race, Harvick had harsh words for Keselowski, who threw a water bottle from his car before NASCAR called the debris caution. NASCAR officials said the water bottle was not the reason for the caution.
Via the NASCAR Wire Service