Multicar tangle sidelines Harvick, Byron, others in final stage at Atlanta

A major crash at the front of the pack slowed the final stage of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, thinning the field of several contenders.

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Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 Ford broke loose from the lead with Ross Chastain, who radioed his No. 1 Trackhouse Racing team that he did not make contact with the front-running car. Multiple cars stacked up behind those two, including William Byron, Chris Buescher, Kyle Busch, Josh Berry and others. In total, 12 cars were collected in the melee.

Chris Buescher\
Chris Buescher\

Harvick had just taken the lead on Lap 189 of a scheduled 260 in Sunday’s Ambetter Health 400. He drove back to pit road but took his Stewart-Haas Racing entry to the garage, ending his day with a 33rd-place result.

“I think he just caught me so quick right there in the middle of the corner and then he kind of was up on the right rear part of the corner and he came back down and when he came back down it just spun the thing out,” Harvick said, referring to Chastain’s close racing on his rear bumper. “I don‘t think he actually even hit me, but it started chattering the rear tires and then I was just along for the ride.”

Byron was attempting to win his third consecutive Cup race after previous victories at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix Raceway. He finished just one spot ahead of Harvick after he was unable to continue. Buescher, Harrison Burton and BJ McLeod were also sidelined.

“It’s just part of racing. That‘s the way it goes, not really in our control,” Byron said after he was evaluated and released from the infield care center. “We were up there running in the top five and doing what we needed to do.”