HAMPTON, Ga. - Matt Kenseth capitalized and Kevin Harvick didn't after a blown tire took Kyle Busch's Toyota out of the picture in Saturday's Nicorette 300 race in the NASCAR Nationwide Series at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Busch, who started second after qualifying was snowed out, jumped out front from the very start of the race and left everybody chasing him until his right-front tire blew out on Lap 171.
"Nope," Busch said tersely when asked if he had any warning. "Obviously. we had the dominant car today."
Obviously, but Kenseth's race-winner car owner, Jack Roush, got to point out something else that’s obvious.
"You have to be running at the end of these races to win them," Roush said.
Busch actually was still running. He finished a lap down in 24th. But for the victory this one came down to Kenseth vs. Harvick after they both got past third-place finisher Jeff Burton.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. got a piece of the wreck that saw Eric McClure and Bryan Clauson get their cars torn up on Lap 189. That brought out a red flag, with Kenseth leading with six laps to go for the restart.
Harvick tried to close in, but David Ragan cut a tire just after the green flag and debris from that brought out another yellow.
That set up a green-white-checkered finish, which was bad news for Harvick. He needed at least a couple of laps for his tires to come in, while Kenseth's Ford had been better on short runs.
"It played out perfect," said Kenseth, who had finished second six times in Nationwide Series competition since his previous win at Texas in April 2007.
"Certainly you think about getting beat at the end," Kenseth said. "As a driver that’s disappointing because the team does its job to get you out front. I really thought on the last restart we had a 50-50 chance."
Harvick said his chances would have been better if his team, which he owns, had done a better pit stop on its last opportunity.
"I think it was just slow," he said. "It's really disappointing to give it away on pit road there at the end. When you have opportunities to capitalize late in a race you'd better pounce."
Harvick now leads the Nationwide Series standings by 25 points over Carl Edwards, who finished fourth Saturday. Busch is 74 points back in third.
Bobby Labonte finished fifth Saturday, with Brad Keselowski sixth and Mike Bliss seventh.