Kevin Harvick wins at Sonona for first victory of season

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As his farewell tour began in Sonoma — the track "gifted" him the sponsorship of three Labrador retriever puppies that will be raised and trained to help children with disabilities through Paws as Loving Support Assistance Dogs — Earnhardt is becoming more reflective with each passing race.

I wouldn't call Harvick off limits by any means, but if there is a high-priced driver I'm avoiding, it's going to be him. "I think that was the biggest thing".

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. With an eight second lead over second place, Harvick was able to be on cruise control and picked up the win for the Stewart-Hass Racing team.

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

AJ Allmendinger was fifth for JTG Daugherty Racing, and Danica Patrick was sixth for Stewart-Haas Racing in her best qualifying run of the season. Harvick had spent 16 years in a Chevrolet. He had said in the weeks leading into the season that the switch from Chevrolet to Ford would have its hiccups. In NASCAR, unlike traditional professional sports where the team pays the athlete to compete, race auto drivers are required to pay their teams for the costs associated with their race cars, crew, and support facilities.

The Furniture Row driver has notched up a massive 21 Play-Off points - thanks to two race wins, and a whopping 11 stage wins - five more points than his closest rival, and stage two victor at Sonoma, Jimmie Johnson, who recently signed a contract extension to stay at Hendrick, who has 16. I was surprised we were able to keep up with him as well as we could on seven, but just shows how strong our auto was. "It's just a big undertaking, and one day I think when we get done with this year, I think everybody will actually learn all the details of all the things that it took to get to this particular point".

According to oddsmakers at Bovada.lv, Martin Truex Jr. is the favorite to win this race, as he has 5/1 odds. He won the first stage, raising his season stage wins to 11 for the season.

The culprits: Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray of Chip Ganassi Racing.

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Truex remained second in driver points, 13 markers behind Kyle Larson.

Keselowski got by Hamlin on the final lap to finish third for his first career top-five Sonoma finish. Kurt Busch has also been good at the road courses with three Top 10's in his last four races with a 7.0 average finish.

Kahne had harsh words for Kevin O'Connell, who was making his Cup debut. "You obviously don't know what he's doing either".

Martin Truex Jr. looked like the only racer who might stand in Harvick's way.

"Let's face it, you're not going to keep that team that's won a championship, won all these races in the last five years, you're not going to keep them out of winning", Bowyer said.

Day drove in North America for the first time in 2015, competing in the first six races of the Indy Lights season, the feeder series for Indy cars. He finished 32nd out of 40.

Despite the mishap, the 24-year-old California native finished the lap with the fastest time of the weekend at 1:15.177. He did, however, win the K&N Series race at Sonoma on Saturday and it may have given him some inside knowledge.

Larson planned to be a spectator Saturday night at Calistoga Speedway, where best friend Rico Abreu was hosing a charity sprint auto race that featured Abreu, Tony Stewart and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

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