Brad Keselowski led the final seven laps to win the Folds of Honor Quicktrip 500 after a late penalty for speeding pit road ended Kevin Harvick's chances for winning after dominating the event. A driver with good to great qualifying times and for whatever reason is knocked back in pole position can earn you a big bonus in fantasy scoring in place differential points. But, after a late yellow came out when Austin Dillon lost power, the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford eclipsed the 45 miles per hour speed limit going into the pits.
Larson would go on to finish second, with Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne and Chase Elliott rounding out the top five.
For Stewart-Haas racing's Kurt Busch, the Daytona 500 was a great way to kick off the new NASCAR season with his first career win at this race. However, his past two trips have brought him nothing but trouble, tallying equal finishes of 26th, failing to finish on the lead lap in races he was never really competitive.
Atlanta Motor Speedway provided a much-welcomed change in scenery, especially because it's about 90 minutes south of his home in Dawsonville, Ga. There when I restarted the leader after our Christmas present we got there, and Brad lined up behind me, I knew he was going to be the one to beat.
NASCAR revised its penalty structure for lug nut-related violations last fall after several crew chiefs were suspended for having missing or non-secure lug nuts during post-race inspection.
"Well, you know, wins are always special, but early in the season they're really good", Keselowski said.
"I'm so sorry guys", Harvick told his team over the radio.
"I thought I was being conservative", Harvick said. Sunday's race will reflect well all those years successfully sliding around dirt ovals where the track conditions constantly change and the high line nearly always prevails.
There's not much explaining to do here other than just play the guy in your lineups. The current track was last repaved in 1997, with the grooves firmly worn in after two decades of racing on the same surface. "That happened to me there in the middle section of the race".
"We rebounded from that [penalty]", Elliott said in the media center. "We worked hard, really hard, this one just hurts there is nothing better to say about it - it just hurts". Something for me to try to improve on coming back. Harvick rebounded to take 9th place giving Ford four cars in the top 10. Kevin Harvick and Jamie McMurray.
"We've looked at the surface quite a lot with our engineers and our paving experts", Smith said.
Throughout the afternoon, there were only six cautions and none of them were for multi-car accidents.
NASCAR's finest head out west next weekend for the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the first of three straight races in that part of the country.