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NASCAR Cup: Kevin Harvick notches first Sonoma win

Kevin Harvick celebrates at Sonoma Raceway after winning the Toyota/Save Mart 350 on June 25, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

Kevin Harvick celebrates at Sonoma Raceway after winning the Toyota/Save Mart 350 on June 25, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).


Kevin Harvick claimed his first win of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season and the first Cup Series win of his career at Sonoma Raceway in his home state of California on Sunday when he took the checkered flag in the Toyota/Save Mart 350.

“I am so excited,” Harvick said. “I think as you look at it, getting our first win with Ford, this has been a great journey for us as an organization and team. Kurt (Busch) winning the Daytona 500 and we have run well. Everybody from Bush, Jimmy John’s and Mobil 1, Outback, Hunt Brothers and everybody. It is a great day. It finally all came together. and we were able to not have any cautions there at the end. Rodney had great strategy and I was able to take care of the car and get out front. I felt like the 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) was the car we had to race, and then, he had problems and from there, we were in control.”

The win was the second-straight at Sonoma for Stewart-Haas Racing, with Tony Stewart driving to victory lane there for his final Cup Series win last year. The No. 14 car Stewart drove to the win last year finished second this team around, with Clint Bowyer taking runner-up honors to give SHR the one-two finish.

“We were fast all weekend,” Bowyer said. “With clean air and an long run, that’s always my strong suit. We got the long run, we just hard to start dead last to get it.”

Harvick led a total of 24 laps in the 110-lap race, taking his final lead from Brad Keselowski with 22 laps remaining, as Keselowski held out until the final 20 laps to make his final pit stop under green. Denny Hamlin also got by Keselowski to take second before Keselowski pit. But in the final five laps, Bowyer passed Hamlin for second and Keselowski, after pitting got by Hamlin to finish third.

“It was good, definitely had a great car,” Hamlin said. “We didn’t have quite enough at the end. We did have real short run speed. We didn’t’ really have great long run speed. We had just had good middle speed and that worked out for us. We had good pit strategy and really passed a lot of cars today and that’s about what we had.”

Hamlin and Kyle Busch rounded out the top-five.

The race ended under caution for a hard crash by Kasey Kahne. Even though the yellow flag waved only five times before the race-ending caution, with two of those yellow flags being the cautions that separated the race into three official stages, the race was a physical one.

Two of the incident cautions were for scuffles involving Danica Patrick, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and pole sitter Kyle Larson. The second time they all got together on lap 31, they also collected Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Patrick, Earnhardt and Larson were able to continue, but Stenhouse sustained enough damage to put him out of the race.

Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson were each 25-lap stage winners. Truex won the first stage of the race for his 11 stage win of the season. Johnson claimed his first stage win of the year by winning stage two.

Early frontrunners struggled in the race. After finishing second to Truex in stage one, A.J. Allmendinger spun early in stage two. Then, throughout the second half of the race, he battled a power issue. Truex led again later, but retired from the race in the final 25 laps because of an engine problem. Larson, who was third in the first stage, wound up 26th at the finish, one lap down.

Other top-10 finishers included Dale Earnhardt Jr. in sixth, Kurt Busch in seventh, Chase Elliott eighth, Ryan Blaney ninth, and Jamie McMurray in 10th.

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Posted by on June 25, 2017. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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