Raybestos Rookie Contender Kevin Harvick won Sunday's Cracker Barrel 500 in his third career Winston Cup start, the quickest ever for a rookie in the sport's modern era.

Ron Bouchard, who won the 1981 Talladega 500 in his 11th career start, held the previous record.

That victory made Harvick just the fifth driver to win in his third career NASCAR Winston Cup start. He joins Bob Flock (1949), Johnny Mantz (1950), Bill Norton (1951), and Dan Gurney (1963). His victory is the earliest in a career in the modern era, eclipsing Mark Donohue's victory in his fifth race, set in Riverside, California, in January 1973.

Harvick was also the highest finishing Raybestos Rookie Contender for the third straight race. In three Winston Cup starts this season; Harvick has an average finish of 7.66, best of all Raybestos Rookie Contenders. He now leads the Raybestos Rookie of the Year point standings by seven points (46-39) over Ron Hornaday entering this weekend's Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 at Darlington Raceway.

Harvick became the second first time race winner in 2001 and the second straight driver to post his career first victory in Atlanta. He is the 10th different race winner since the UAW-GM Quality 500 at Charlotte in October 2000, and the fourth different race winner in four Winston Cup races this season.

Harvick's 0.006-second margin of victory was the closet since Dale Earnhardt beat Ernie Irvan by 0.005 second to the chequered flag at Talladega in July 1993.

Harvick and fellow Raybestos Rookie Contender Jason Leffler each led their first laps in a NASCAR Winston Cup race. Harvick led twice for 18 laps while Leffler paced the field once for one lap.

Meanwhile, Kurt Busch posted his best career Winston Cup finish at Atlanta, placing 10th at the chequered flag.

Raybestos Rookie contender points standings:

1. Kevin Harvick 46
2. Ron Hornaday 39
3. Kurt Busch 34
4. Jason Leffler 34
5. Casey Atwood 29
6. Andy Houston 19

Highest finishing Raybestos Rookie by race:

Daytona 500 Ron Hornaday
Dura Lube 400 Kevin Harvick
UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 Kevin Harvick
Cracker Barrel 500 Kevin Harvick