Kevin Harvick dominated the Nationwide Series event at Atlanta but still needed a last-lap pass to win his second race of the season.
Starting from the front row, Harvick grabbed the lead from polesitter Dale Earnhardt Jr when the green flag waved and held it until the first round of pit stops, which came during the first caution period of the race.
Kyle Busch led the field on the first restart, but after a handful of laps following Harvick was back in control. From then on, the two-time Nationwide Series champion looked in control, with nobody being able to get close to him on the long green-flag runs.
In the final part of the race, though, Harvick needed to pit for fuel with 13 laps remaining, a lap later than second-placed Kyle Busch. That allowed third-placed Dale Earnhardt Jr to move into the lead and he tried to stretch his fuel mileage in order to go the distance without an extra stop.
Although he succeeded at finishing the race, his pace was not good enough on old tires to stay in front as Harvick passed him on the last lap to reclaim the lead and drive off to a deserved win.
Similarly Busch got second, closing down the gap to Harvick to just over a second in the end after being more than four seconds back when he pitted for fuel and four new tires for the last time.
"Once I got going I knew the #5 [Dale Earnhardt Jr] was trying stretching their fuel but I knew I was a couple of seconds a lap faster than he was and then I saw the No. 18 [Kyle Busch] coming from the back, he was better than us for about ten laps, so a lot of things happening there at the end but it all worked out," said Harvick.
"I thought the only car that we were racing was the No. 18 and I knew when he pitted first and showed his hand, I knew that I needed to do the same thing that he did. I had a little bit of trouble there in the pitstop and gave up four or five seconds but still had enough there in the end to win the race."
Kyle Busch finished second for the ninth time this year and increased the gap in the championship to Carl Edwards, who was able to complete the whole race despite the pain from his fractured right foot, finishing seventh in the end.
"What a non-race that was," Busch said. "Hopefully, it was a show there at the end. We were running down Junior [Dale Earnhardt] trying to get past him and he gave us both room. I could run the No. 33 [Kevin Harvick] down or beat him for 15 to 18 laps -- after that I just didn't have anything for him.
"Those guys were so good on the long run. He just had it over us."
Dale Earnhardt Jr's third place was welcomed by the JR Motorsports driver, even if victory was just a lap short from happening.
"We saved enough gas and finished closer to the front two guys than we were before on the racetrack so I guess it was the right call," said Earnhardt Jr. "We just didn't have enough in the end to hold them off. I tried to get going, they were coming. Real happy with the run for this team."
Brad Keselowski and Jeff Burton were the only drivers besides the top-three who finished on the lead lap with fourth and fifth at the checkered flag respectively. Joey Logano was sixth, passing Edwards on the last lap as both were getting lapped by the leader.
Pos Driver Car Laps
1. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 195
2. Kyle Busch Toyota 195
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 195
4. Brad Keselowski Chevrolet 195
5. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 195
6. Joey Logano Toyota 194
7. Carl Edwards Ford 194
8. Greg Biffle Ford 194
9. David Ragan Ford 194
10. Reed Sorenson Chevrolet 193
11. Kasey Kahne Toyota 193
12. Paul Menard Ford 193
13. Brian Vickers Toyota 193
14. Michael Annett Toyota 192
15. David Gilliland Dodge 192
16. Trevor Bayne Toyota 192
17. Justin Allgaier Dodge 192
18. Scott Wimmer Chevrolet 192
19. Mike Wallace Chevrolet 192
20. Jason Leffler Toyota 191
21. Shelby Howard Chevrolet 191
22. Robert Richardson Jr Chevrolet 191
23. Steve Wallace Chevrolet 191
24. Tony Raines Dodge 190
25. Matt Carter Ford 189
26. Eric McClure Ford 189
27. Kenny Wallace Chevrolet 189
28. Peyton Sellers Chevrolet 189
29. Chase Austin Chevrolet 186
30. Bobby Hamilton Jr Dodge 185
31. Brendan Gaughan Chevrolet 132
32. Kelly Bires Toyota 127
33. Brian Keselowski Dodge 71
34. Mike Bliss Chevrolet 46
35. Michael McDowell Dodge 41
36. Jeremy Clements Chevrolet 38
37. Jason Keller Ford 31
38. Casey Atwood Ford 12
39. Chase Miller Toyota 9
40. Mark Green Chevrolet 9
41. Kevin Lepage Dodge 6
42. Johnny Chapman Chevrolet 4
43. Dave Blaney Chevrolet 3