How Kevin Harvick honored Dale Earnhardt Sr. after Sunday's NASCAR win


Aware of what it meant to Earnhardt fans, Harvick stuck three fingers out the window of his auto on the victory lap out of respect for Earnhardt.

Stewart-Haas Racing brought the muscle on Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway during the first downforce race of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, placing all four Ford Fusions inside the top 15. On Sunday when Harvick finally took the checkered again at Atlanta, he, emotionally, did the exact same thing.

That day 17 years ago was jammed with emotion as Harvick won after replacing the late Dale Earnhardt Sr., who died in the season-opening Daytona 500.

With a 27th-place finish at Atlanta, Johnson has now gone 25 races since his last win, the longest winless streak of his Cup series career, which began full time in 2002. "Then they got us a newer gun after that that was fine".

Harvick added Sunday: "There are so many demons that seem to haunt us here for a long time, but the coolest part was being able to try to replicate that first win celebration".

Trevor Bayne: Bayne finished a respectable 13th place at Daytona, but he saw his engine expire on lap 292 on Sunday in Atlanta.

Clint Bowyer finished third; Kurt Busch was eighth (his 52 laps led was more than he had led in the previous 59 races combined and the most he has led in a race since early in the 2016 season); and Aric Almirola finished 13th. The young Harvick took over Earnhardt's auto, with a new No. 29. He led 292 laps in Atlanta previous year before finishing ninth following a pit road speeding penalty.

Harvick will race in a K&N NASCAR pro series west race at Kern Raceway on March 18.

"Happy" has led 907 laps over the past five Atlanta races, 761 more than second-place Jimmie Johnson and 55 percent of the total laps run there.

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Former OU tight end Mark Andrews , who Kiper had going to Jacksonville in his first mock draft, wasn't included in this edition. Stewart from North Carolina, solid football player, a veteran", he said. "He is more of a two right now ".

Many Thursday Thunder alumni didn't fare well at the start of the race.

Trevor Bayne's auto started smoking, which led to a caution and a wreck between Bubba Wallace and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. The great effort puts Logano atop the driver point standings by 6 points over Ryan Blaney. Ford teams won the race's first two stages and led 144 of the first 170 laps. And the decisive restart with Keselowski to his outside was even less of a hindrance, with Harvick quickly pulling away and building up a comfortable advantage. Sunday he was already a lap down when he spun in turn 2 at roughly the halfway mark of the race.

PIT PROBLEMS - Harvick pitted twice during the caution that ended the first stage.

The new NASCAR-mandated pit guns aren't working out too well so far.

"I honestly don't know 100 percent what happened, so that's way out of my category of things that I need to be commenting on", Harvick said.

The final stage featured some drama as rain threatened to end the race.

A LATE START - Morning rain delayed the start of the race by two hours and 30 minutes.

The race didn't start until after 3 p.m. following a lengthy weather delay.