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Auto racing: Kevin Harvick finishes off dominant weekend in Atlanta

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Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 25.
(Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

Kevin Harvick completed his weekend mastery of Atlanta Motor Speedway by holding off Brad Keselowski on Sunday in the rain-delayed NASCAR Monster Energy Cup race.

Harvick, who was dominant Saturday in winning the second-tier Xfinity event, started fourth in the Cup race and quickly proved he had the car to beat.

Harvick was comfortably in the lead when Trevor Bayne’s engine blew with 28 laps to go. The restart gave contenders a chance to grab the lead, but Harvick beat Keselowski to remain in control.

“What a relief,” Harvick told his crew after crossing the finish line. He led 292 laps in Atlanta last year before finishing ninth following a pit road speeding penalty.

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The start was delayed 2 hours, 30 minutes by rain. The threat of more rain added urgency in the late battle for the lead. There were reports of drops of rain with more than 130 laps remaining, leading to increased concerns the race could end early.

Clint Bowyer was third, followed by Denny Hamlin.

Harvick quickly moved from 19th back to the lead following a green flag pit stop early in the race and again quickly moved back to the lead following a pit stop on lap 252.

Force wins while father crashes

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Courtney Force won the NHRA Arizona Nationals on Sunday after her 68-year-old father escaped serious injury in a frightening engine explosion and crash.

Courtney Force beat Tommy Johnson Jr. in the final round with a 3.834-second run at 337.16 mph. She won for the 10th time in Funny Car and first since Houston in 2016.

In the second round, John Force’s engine exploded at the finish line, sending him veering across the right lane in front of Jonnie Lindberg and hard into a retaining wall. The hit lifted his rear tires off the ground, and they landed on Lindberg’s canopy. The parachutes from both cars got tangled at that point, and Lindberg’s car dragged Force’s back across the track and into the left wall. It was the second time in two events that Force blew an engine in elimination rounds.

John Force was speaking with safety personnel before being transported to a hospital for further evaluation. Lindberg exited his mangled dragster under his own power.

The crash happened two weeks after another of Force’s daughters, reigning Top Fuel champion Brittany Force, was hospitalized following a hard crash at the season opener in Pomona, California. Brittany Force was back in the car this weekend in Arizona.

Steve Torrence won in Top Fuel, and Chris McGaha in Pro Stock. Torrence beat Scott Palmer with a 3.729 at 330.72, and McGaha topped Jason Line with a 6.529 at 211.59.

F1 racers to begin 2018 testing

Formula One teams will finally take their 2018 cars to the track when preseason testing begins Monday in Spain, with Mercedes and Ferrari promising significant improvements to try to keep running up front.

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This week’s test session in Barcelona will also allow McLaren to debut its Renault engine after three dismal years with Honda, and give Red Bull a chance to show it has a car fast enough to finally contend for titles again.

All teams will have a new halo, the protective cockpit device that is mandatory this season. The odd-looking cover that goes around the drivers’ heads is the most visible change to cars from a year ago. The “shark fins” and their adjacent tiny wings on top of the cars are gone this season, and each driver will only be allowed to use three power units — instead of four — during the 21-race calendar.


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