Kevin Harvick wins at Sonona for 1st victory of season

Kevin Harvick wins at Sonona for 1st victory of season

Kevin Harvick wins at Sonona for 1st victory of season

Bowyer, now the driver for the entry Tony Stewart used for his final NASCAR victory a year ago at the track, was second and Brad Keselowski third as Ford cars went 1-2-3.

The California native took the lead with 22 laps to go and cruised to the win, capturing his 36th career Monster Energy Cup victory and first at Sonoma Raceway.

Seven cars stayed out on the track when the leaders went to the pits, putting Harvick into eighth place on the re-start.

Now 42 years old and married, Fox stopped him Sunday after what might have been his final race on the picturesque road course in Napa Valley wine country. His best chance to clinch a play-off spot could come in next week's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona, a track where he has won four times in his Cup Series career. He did, however, win the K&N Series race at Sonoma on Saturday and it may have given him some inside knowledge.

"I feel good", said Harvick. It will be pretty weird, I think, to come back to the 500. Everybody back in Denver, thank you for just insane fast cars.

Eventual race victor Kevin Harvick pitted one lap before McMurray, and when he returned to the track on fresh tires, Harvick rapidly ate into Keselowski's advantage, passing the No. 2 Ford Fusion for the lead on Lap 89.

Stewart-Haas teammate Clint Bowyer finished second.

His loss was Harvick's gain as he pulled away to become the ninth driver in as many years to win at Sonoma. Prior to Sunday's event, Ford has seven victories at the track and never a repeat victor.

"It's not like I was looking at that team as one I was going to have to point my way into beating for the [playoffs]", Bowyer said. "I think, for me, that was kind of like, 'All right, you've got to do something yourself to get better.'". The driver of the No.4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet was one of three drivers with a unique shot at capturing two trophies this weekend at the 1.99-mile course; and that's exactly what he did. Then when 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) fell out, I felt like we were in control of the race.

Playing into the hands of Harvick and crew chief Rodney Childers, the race went green from the Lap 55 restart after the second stage (won by Jimmie Johnson) until the final caution after Kahne's wreck as Harvick approached the finish line.

The culprits: Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray of Chip Ganassi Racing. His win at MI was icing on the cake for the regular season points leader who had a lackluster 26th place finish at Sonoma after qualifying on the pole. Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch round out the top-five.

Some of the lesser NASCAR teams bring in specialists for the road courses because their usual drivers don't have the background to tackle places like Sonoma, but the best they can hope for in those cars is not to leave them completely mangled. "It was interesting listening to some of the (Joe) Gibbs (Racing) drivers and the gamesmanship they were playing as they pitted and came back out and then immediately started screaming debris on the racetrack", said winning vehicle owner Tony Stewart in the media center at Sonoma.

Early in Stage 2, Ricky Stenhouse Jr spun while racing 3 wide with Kyle Larson and Dale Jr.

Dixon's No. 9 Honda held off Newgarden and the three other Penske drivers who started up front.

Helio Castroneves won the pole, turning a lap in 1 minute, 41.30 seconds at 142.649 miles per hour. Stage racing should also help contribute to there being multiple drivers with 20+ laps led.

Championship competitors Lewis Hamilton and Sebastien Vettel were fifth and fourth, respectively after their troubles. I'm going to go to the 500 whether I've got any work to do or not.

Shortly before that, Hamilton and Vettel were involved in an incident that threatens to sour their good relations.

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