Kevin Harvick showcased his road racing ability to win the 2017 Toyota Save Mart 350 Sunday by more than eight seconds.
The unique course at Sonoma Raceway features 11 turns and requires a lot of skill to navigate through the track without making a mistake. Harvick's impressive driving and a choice not to pit late allowed him to pull away from the field for his first win of the season.
Clint Bowyer finished in second while Brad Keselowski earned a third-place finish.
Here are the top results from Sunday's action:
1. Kevin Harvick (4)
2. Clint Bowyer (14)
3. Brad Keselowski (2)
4. Denny Hamlin (11)
5. Kyle Busch (18)
6. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (88)
7. Kurt Busch (41)
8. Chase Elliott (24)
9. Ryan Blaney (21)
10. Jamie McMurray (1)
Fox NASCAR captured the final lap of the winning run:
FOX: NASCAR @NASCARONFOX
RT to congratulate @KevinHarvick on his WIN at @RaceSonoma! #NASCARonFS1 @StewartHaasRcng https://t.co/xurDXVOxk62017-6-25 22:10:53
There was a caution right as the checkered flag was waived, but it didn't affect the No. 4 car's win. This came after about an hour straight of driving under a green flag through the end of the event.
This was enough to allow Harvick to become the 11th different winner of the season in the Monster Energy Series.
Kyle Larson began the race in the lead after winning yet another pole, but the first stage went just as so many others have this season.
Martin Truex Jr. made a pass to go into first place and claim Stage 1, his 11th stage win of the year.
NASCAR researcher Matt Willis showed the driver's dominance in the new format:
Matt Willis @WillisOnNASCAR
If you wanted visual representation of how many more stage wins Truex has than everybody else... https://t.co/axa1S5ujrH2017-6-25 20:09:16
The race also saw several spin outs that came as a result of the difficult turns:
How in the world did @ClintBowyer come out of this with no damage? 😳 https://t.co/PBI4gizl4j2017-6-25 20:03:14
Stage 2 gets underway... but a quick caution flies for an incident involving @StenhouseJr and @DanicaPatrick. https://t.co/eNu5BnuFZJ2017-6-25 20:14:43
Trouble for several of the top contenders! Allmendinger, Larson and Bowyer all with damage after this spin. We stay green... #NASCARonFS1 https://t.co/aCKaISmhwa2017-6-25 20:22:34
There were also several different strategies when it came to pitting, but Jimmie Johnson chose to stay out longer than most other drivers to finish first in Stage 2. It was the first stage win for a man who has three race wins this year.
Truex appeared to be in charge with 25 laps led, but engine issues changed the course of the race:
Dustin Long @dustinlong
#NASCAR ... Martin Truex Jr. says he's dropped a cylinder and thinks the engine is blowing @NASCARonNBC2017-6-25 21:19:40
Jeff Gluck @jeff_gluck
Crazy though about Truex...easily had the best car today. Now it's anyone's race if he can't make it w/engine problems.2017-6-25 21:22:48
Nick DeGroot @ndegroot89
Truex pits and the hood goes up on the #78. Tough break for those guys ... this was their race. #NASCAR2017-6-25 21:37:33
The rest of the field took advantage, with Keselowski moving to the front of the pack before Harvick eventually grabbed the lead.
After a long run without a caution—there were only five throughout the race—the varied strategies became the story with several cars refusing to pit. Harvick was the most aggressive, building an eight-second lead over the rest of the field.
This allowed him to ease through the rest of the race while conserving fuel and avoiding an accident with his old tires. Bowyer and Keselowski provided a challenge, but weren't able to stop Harvick from closing out the victory.
Those who struggled Sunday will be able to get back on track next week at Daytona International Speedway for the Coke Zero 400. The legendary course should be much more familiar to the top drivers as they try to climb up the standings.