Harvick breaks drought to capture Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma

June 26, 2017

NASCAR

Kevin Harvick celebrates after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race Sunday, June 25, 2017, in Sonoma, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

By Tom Zulewski

After 20 races without traversing victory lane, Kevin Harvick was desperate for redemption.

He finally got it Sunday.

It had been more than a year since the 2014 Sprint Cup champion had finished first, but he finally tasted victory after transitioning from Chevrolet to Ford for Stewart-Hass Racing at Sonoma Raceway’s Toyota/Save Mart 350—in a relatively clean race, at that. At the windy road course, there was over an hour without a caution flag, almost unheard of at a track of the type.

Harvick took the lead from Brad Keselowski with 22 laps remaining and held on for his first win of 2017 at the Toyota/SaveMart 350. It was his first win at the first of NASCAR’s two road- course races, and Harvick became the 10th different driver to earn his first win at Sonoma in the last 12 years. With the new stage racing format in play for the first time, new records were set with 13 lead changes and 10 different drivers who led a lap.

Harvick’s SHR teammate, Clint Bowyer, finished second as the race ended under caution when Kasey Kahne crashed into a cement retaining wall on the 110th and final lap of the race. There were five cautions in total, only two involving accidents (Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick got together in the uphill turn 1 at lap 16, and the pair had a similar incident 16 laps later in turn 4 that ended the day for Ricky Stenhouse Jr.) and one for debris at lap 40.

Harvick won for the 36th time in his NASCAR Monster Energy Cup career and became the 11th different driver to win a race this season. He qualified 12th and his average speed was 78.710 mph. Martin Truex Jr., the 2013 winner at Sonoma, won Stage 1, but ran into engine trouble and finished 37th. Jimmie Johnson, who won at Sonoma in 2010, won Stage 2, led 12 laps, but finished 13th.

 

 

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