NASCAR at Atlanta: Another strong run for Chase Elliott comes up short

LIVE | Previewing this weekend's action at Atlanta Motor Speedway

LIVE | Previewing this weekend's action at Atlanta Motor Speedway

Kevin Harvick led for a majority of the race but was penalized a lap for exceeding the 45 miles per hour speed limit when going into the pit.

Sure, he slipped away from Atlanta Motor Speedway with a victory that seemed downright improbable most of the day. Photo by Christian Espinoza.

Elliott was one of those who got as close as the rear bumper of Harvick's Ford without being able to get by.

Harvick's focus will switch from running one fast lap to surviving expected tire runs of 40 laps. Yesterday's XFINITY and Truck Series races were considerably less drama-filled when coming back to the green and white checkered flag at the end of stages, and that certainly could be the case on Sunday as well.

Keselowski was forced onto pit road for an unscheduled pit stop on lap 117 by a tire issue.

And that's exactly what happened. Stock auto races were held there in 2010 and 2011, when the track was closed permanently.

"The cars are going to be a handful", said Kevin Harvick, who will start from the pole Sunday.

Thirteen penalties to 11 drivers were doled out Sunday for exceeding the speed limit on pit road, compared to only one in last year's Atlanta race. The No.4 was sent to the tail end of the field, handing the lead over to fellow CA native, Kyle Larson.

When the race restarted with 56 laps remaining, Harvick led Austin Dillon, Elliott, Kurt Busch and Larson.

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Brad Keselowski, who inherited the victory when Harvick was penalized, was asked 16 questions before somebody mentioned the new format during his postrace news conference. Photo by Zach Darrow. "There's no doubt about that", said Keselowski, who won for the first time at Atlanta and for the 22nd time in his career. "But everybody here, kept their heads up, moved on here and this is what you get with this kind of effort". "But until we really get into side drafting and trying to free people up from behind them or alongside of their quarter-panel I don't know if I have a good read on it yet". Here's hoping the next time a win slips away because of something that happens to the vehicle outside of his control, Harvick remembers what happened at Atlanta. A great winning percentage at this level is one out of every 10 races, and one out of every 10 races, if you can pull that off, you're a Hall of Famer.

When he got nailed for speeding, Harvick remarked to his crew that he thought he was being conservative.

Harvick was able to battle his way back into the top-10 throughout the last few laps, bringing home a decent 9th-place finish.

Keselowski wasn't among the eight drivers nabbed for speeding on pit road throughout the race, but his day wasn't without its hiccups, either. Apparently, I wasn't. I want to thank everyone on our Jimmy John's Ford for everything they did this weekend. "His vehicle was great, and I was able to make the right moves to get by him". "And when he told me to pit because there was a lug nut loose, I pitted and I didn't second-guess him". Given the seeming closeness of the penalties, he could be on to something. "I was too fast".

Ryan Newman will start second, followed by Kyle Busch in third, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.in fourth and Keselowski in fifth.

The hope is that the lack in downforce requires drivers to be off the throttle longer in the turns and a driver who can get a good balance on the vehicle will have a better ability to pass. But where Harvick received two bonus playoff points for stage victories, Keselowski earned five bonus points for the overall win.

The only thing Harvick could say to his team after the speeding penalty, "I am so sorry, guys".

Dale Earnhardt Jr. caused a little bit of a stir in the Daytona 500 when he performed an eye test on himself during the red flag.

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