Tha Sports Junkies 101

Harvick Heads for Victory Lane in Sonoma



Twists, turns, tempers, and tons of strategy; this was just a sampling of Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 in Sonoma. Veteran driver Kevin Harvick was able to lead 24 laps and hold on for his first win of 2017.

Wine country lived up to the unpredictability it’s become known for. Ganassi teammates Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray started the day on the front row.  Early on, Dale Earnhardt Jr spun out in turn 11 while trying to pass Danica Patrick. The first stage went to Martin Truex Jr, his record 11th stage win for the year. Stage 2 went to Jimmie Johnson, his first stage win of the season.

Prerace favorite AJ Allmendinger faced adversity throughout much of the race. While racing for the lead with Truex in the early stages. However, a lap 34 spin led to a 35th place finish. Truex had a strong showing in California. He led a race high 25 laps, but a late engine failure caused a DNF result.

Early in Stage 2, Ricky Stenhouse Jr spun while racing 3 wide with Kyle Larson and Dale Jr. He then got hot hard by Danica Patrick, this ended in him finishing 38th.

5 drivers made their Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut in Sonoma. They included Billy Johnson, Josh Bilicki, Tommy Regan, Kevin O’Connell, and Alon Day. The best finisher of this group was Johnson, who finished 22nd while subbing for Aric Almirola.

As with most road course races, several opposing pit strategies shook up the late laps of this race. Brad Keselowski attempted to stretch fuel mileage. At one point he was leading by 12 seconds, but he had to pit late. He rebounded to finish 3rd.

The top 10 finishers were Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Dale Jr, Kurt Busch, Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, and Jamie McMurray. Johnson, who led 12 laps, finished in 13th.

In addition to his first win of the season, Sunday marked Kevin Harvick’s first career win at Sonoma Raceway. He is now only winless at Texas, Pocono, and Kentucky Speedway.

The next stop for the NASCAR Cup Series is Daytona International Speedway for the Coke Zero 400. This Saturday night race will mark the season debut for the NBC television coverage. It will also be the third restrictor plate race of the season. Brad Keselowski won this race in 2016 in dominating fashion.