Kevin Harvick couldn’t have asked for a better race weekend at Sonoma Raceway. The driver of the No.4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet was one of three drivers with a unique shot at capturing two trophies this weekend at the 1.99-mile course; and that’s exactly what he did.
In a sort of throwback adventure, Harvick entered into Saturday’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series West event. He is very familiar with the series, but it’s been awhile since he had competed in the series. The Bakersfield, CA native won seven West races and the 1998 West championship during his climb up the NASCAR ladder. Now one of the veteran drivers in the Monster Energy Cup Series, he hoped to rekindle some of that old magic as well as shine some refreshed light on the series and it’s young drivers.
Saturday’s victory didn’t come easily for the Cup veteran though. Harvick undoubtedly had one of the fastest cars, but so did his Jefferson Pitts Racing teammate, Will Rodgers. Rodgers, an up-and-coming driver competing full-time in the West Series, had captured the pole early on in the day and went into the event as one of the favorites. As the race began to wind down, Harvick and Rodgers found themselves in a spirited battle for the victory. Harvick had gotten out to the race lead, but Rodgers had a faster car and was able to run him down. Many expected Rodgers to move Harvick out of the way, but the two drivers kept it clean and Harvick was able to hold on for the victory.
“It always feels good to win no matter what it is,” said Harvick after Saturday’s win. “The main objective was to come have fun, shine a little light on the series and shine a little light on how much talent is in the series.”
Harvick had to battle hard for Saturday’s victory, but Sunday’s wasn’t as difficult.
The 2014 MENCS champion’s day started off a little shaky as he failed to receive points in either of the first two stages of the race. But Harvick’s car was fast and the team knew if they’d get out front they’d have a good shot. As his biggest competitor fell to the wayside with engine issues, the race fell into Harvick’s hands. The California native took the lead with 22 laps to go and cruised to the win, capturing his 36th career Monster Energy Cup victory and first at Sonoma Raceway.
“This is worth the wait,” said Harvick after Sunday’s race. “To come to Sonoma for so many years, and to win yesterday coming back to the K&N Series, and come back here today…I guess we’ll have to do that again because it worked out pretty good. Just really proud of everybody. They had a great strategy and were able to make it happen.”
Clint Bowyer, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch, Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, and Jamie McMurray rounded out the rest of the top-10 finishers from Sunday’s race.
Harvick’s win made him the 11th different winner of the 2017 Monster Energy Cup season, and the 10th overall driver locked into the Playoffs.