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Kevin Harvick dominates at Atlanta Motor Speedway for second win of season

June 7 (UPI) -- Kevin Harvick cruised to his second win of the season in Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Competing again in front of no fans, Harvick won for the second time since NASCAR returned from a two-month shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic. He won at Darlington in the first race back.

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Harvick's Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Ford led a race-high 151 of the 325 laps in Atlanta. His third-ever win at the Atlanta track marked his 51st career victory in the NASCAR Cup Series, breaking a tie with Ned Jarrett and Junior Johnson for the 12th spot on the career wins list.

Back in 2001, Harvick won his first Cup Series race at Atlanta only three races after he replaced Dale Earnhardt, who died on the final lap of the season-opening Daytona 500 that year. After that win, Harvick held up three fingers out of his window to honor Earnhardt, who drove the iconic No. 3 Chevrolet.

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Harvick continued that long-running tribute to Earnhardt after his win Sunday, doing a reverse victory lap while holding up three fingers.

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"Obviously, first win for me came here in Atlanta, and this is just a race track that I've taken a liking to," Harvick said after his victory. "You always come back and have those memories and now you want to celebrate everything that Dale Earnhardt did for this sport. To come here and be able to do that with wins and go to victory lane is pretty special."

Kyle Busch edged Martin Truex Jr. in the closing laps to secure second place. Truex, who led six times for 65 laps, held on for third.

Ryan Blaney finished fourth, while Denny Hamlin landed in fifth. Kurt Busch (sixth), Jimmie Johnson (seventh), Chase Elliott (eighth), Brad Keselowski (ninth) and Joey Logano (10th) rounded out the top 10.

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NASCAR returned to Atlanta to make up a race that was originally scheduled for March 15. It was the first race to be postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Before Sunday's race began, NASCAR president Steve Phelps acknowledged the social unrest in the United States and vowed to do a better job of addressing racial injustice in the wake of George Floyd's death.

"Our country is in pain and our people are justifiably angry, demanding to be heard," Phelps said. "Our sport must do better. Our country must do better."

Wallace, the only African American competing in the Cup Series, wore a black shirt with the words "I Can't Breathe" and "Black Lives Matter." He finished 21st on Sunday.

The NASCAR Cup Series continues next Sunday with the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia.

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