The Final Word – Atlanta was like a Happy little children’s song for Harvick

If you’re Happy and you know it,
Drive your car.
If you’re Happy and you know it,
Drive it far.
If you’re Happy and you know it,
End the day doing donuts,
If you’re Happy and you know it,
Be as you are.

That pretty much sums up the 500 mile race Sunday at Atlanta. Kevin “Happy” Harvick dominated the opening stage, and though an air gun mishap dropped him back, he was near the front after the second stage. The third, it was all Harvick, with a few cameos as some anticipated rain, others tried different strategies, but all to no avail. It marked his first win at the track on which he claimed his first back in 2001. This victory was his 38th and locked him into the playoff hunt.

While Harvick led more than half the time, Brad Keselowski was second after holding point for 38 laps. Denny Hamlin was fourth with 26 up front, while Kurt Busch settled for eighth, taking the second stage and leading 52 circuits.

Only 13 drivers managed to run the full 325 laps, including Top Five finishers Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. Pole sitter Kyle Busch was seventh but did well enough throughout in accumulating extra notches to wind up third best in points on the day. Rounding out the Top Ten was Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, and Chase Elliott.

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Good days for some, bad days for others who one would think would have done better. A blown tire that did some serious renovations to the front fender did in Jimmie Johnson. After the Daytona disaster, it would be an understatement to say that he is off to a slow start. He already sits way down in 35th in the standings. Others with 10 points or less on Sunday included A.J. Allmendinger, Matt DiBenedetto, Bubba Wallace, and a blown engine parked Trevor Bayne in 35th.

Next stop is Las Vegas, as the teams answer the call to go west with their young men. Just 36 entries last week marked a 22 year low, but Premium Motorsports will add the uncharted entry of Joey Gase for the trip to the Strip to push the entry tally to 37. It will be the 23rd career Cup start for the 25-year-old from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Truex is the defending race champion, though a second visit to the venue comes up in September, a date that once belonged to New Hampshire. Keselowski has won two of the past four in Las Vegas, sandwiching the 2015 victory of Harvick. It could be a case of the rich getting even richer next weekend. It might be early, but Johnson is not the only one who could use a little luck to come their way on their visit to The Entertainment Capital of the World. Alex Bowman, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Jamie McMurray, Erik Jones, William Byron, and Daniel Suarez are just some of those who have seen craps come up enough times already. Something better than snake eyes is what they will be looking for the next time they roll ‘dem bones on Sunday.

As for Harvick and Daytona winner Austin Dillon, they might prefer the wheels on the bus to continue going round and round. However, if the damn things fall off, there is always next week. The pressure is off.

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