Sunday NASCAR Notes: Blame the Air for Kevin Harvick's Big Crash at Atlanta NASCAR Cup Race

auto mar 19 nascar cup series ambetter health 400
Blame the Air for Harvick's Big Crash at AtlantaIcon Sportswire - Getty Images

Kevin Harvick was leading a double-wide freight train Sunday during the NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on lap 190 Sunday when Ross Chastain barely moved from one side of Harvick’s rear bumper to the other.

A replay shows Chastain never touched Harvick’s bumper, but the disturbance of the air sent Harvick spinning in front of the field.

“I think he just caught me so quick right there in the middle of the corner and then he was kind of up on the right rear part of the corner,” Harvick said. “He came back down and when he came back down it just spun the thing out.

“I don’t think he actually even hit me, but it started chattering the rear tires and then I was just along for the ride.”

Joey Logano went on to win the race, passing Brad Keselowski on the final lap for the win.

LaJoie Records Best Career Finish

Corey LaJoie secured the best finish of his NASCAR Cup career Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, securing fourth place in the closing laps. His second career top-five finish came a year after he recorded a fifth place in the first race on the reconfigured Atlanta track.

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Corey Lajoie (7) finished strong on Sunday.Icon Sportswire - Getty Images

“I gave him (Joey Logano) a good shot there at the end,” LaJoie said. “I was probably fourth or fifth in the top lane there. I had an opportunity to get down and as soon as I didn’t take it, I was like, ‘Man! That was the race.’ That was probably with 18 or 20 to go.”

“I felt like the track lost 10 to 15 percent of grip from last year, so handling was a big thing. You could really drive or push if you wanted to, or you could be sideways. We were able to pick the right lanes at the right time, just a little short.”

Atlanta Track Full of Memories for Logano

auto mar 19 nascar cup series ambetter health 400
Joey Logano had a big weekend in Atlanta.Icon Sportswire - Getty Images

For Ambetter Health 400 winner Joey Logano, Atlanta Motor Speedway symbolizes memories and dreams for the NASCAR Cup champion.

In 2001, Logano watched from the grandstand as Kevin Harvick claimed his first NASCAR Cup victory, just three races after being named to succeed Dale Earnhardt at Richard Childress Racing.

The Connecticut native then began racing Legend Cars at the track. He lived in the trackside condominiums and often looked at the 1.54-mile track. Ten years before succeeding Tony Stewart at Joe Gibbs Racing he asked for the champion’s autograph.

This year, a day before winning the Ambetter Health 400, he met with the track’s current Legends car drivers and they gave him some of their hero cards.

Right-Rear Tire Issue Costs Almirola, Larson

When Aric Almirola pitted on lap 192, he received only fuel, electing track position over tires. He restarted first with Kyle Larson second and Brad Keselowski third. However, when Almirola’s Ford lost a right-rear tire on lap 209, the ensuing crash eliminated the Stewart-Haas Racing driver, Larson and Daniel Suarez.

“It knocked the wind out of me, mostly because it caught me by surprise, but I’m OK,” Almirola said. “I blew a tire. I have no idea why. We had way less laps on that set of tires than we had earlier, so I don’t know.”

Reddick Finishes 5th Despite Stomach Virus

A stomach virus that caused Tyler Reddick to miss Sunday’s drivers’ meeting didn’t slow the Toyota driver who produced his second consecutive top-five finish this season.

With the 400-mile race winding down, Reddick positioned himself behind then leader Brad Keselowski, often giving him a push to keep him ahead of eventual winner Joey Logano. Reddick was third with 10 laps remaining, but then got shuffled back in the final two laps to fifth.