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Harvick earns his first win with Ford

Profile image for Jenna Fryer
Jenna Fryer, AP

SONONA, Calif. -- Kevin Harvick led a 1-2-3 podium sweep for Ford while proving that veteran experience still counts for something in NASCAR.

The 2014 NASCAR champion came to Sears Point winless in 20 races since Kansas last fall and has been overshadowed in this season of young, new superstars. But at a track where experience and ability can separate the field, it was Harvick and a bunch of veterans who led the way.

It was the first win on the wine country course in 17 tries for the Bakersfield, California, driver. Sonoma was one of just four active tracks where Harvick had never scored a Cup Series victory.

"To finally check this one off the list .... being so close to home and having raced here so much, this was one that was on the top of the list," Harvick said.

Harvick was on cruise control and conserving fuel in a race that ended under caution after Kasey Kahne had a hard accident on the final lap. Harvick had a nine-second lead over Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Clint Bowyer before the caution.

Bowyer, driving the entry Tony Stewart used for his final victory last year at the track, was second and Brad Keselowski third as Ford Fusions went 1-2-3.

For Harvick, it was his first victory in a Ford. Harvick had spent 16 years with Chevrolet.

It was Ford's seventh victory of the season. Ford won eight races last season, and seven came from Team Penske. This year, the manufacturer has wins from Penske, Roush-Fenway Racing, the Wood Brothers and SHR.

"Getting our first win with Ford -- this has been a great journey for us as an organization and team," Harvick said.

Chevy also has seven wins. Toyota has two.

Martin Truex Jr. led 25 laps but suffered an engine failure and finished 37th. Truex won the first stage of the race, his series-leading 11th stage victory. Jimmie Johnson won the second stage, his first stage victory, but finished 13th.

Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray started on the pole for Chip Ganassi Racing and hoped to give the owner a Sunday sweep after Scott Dixon won the Indy car race at Road America. But Larson, the points leader, was never a factor and finished 26th. McMurray was 10th.

Most in the top 10 were veterans. Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch were fourth and fifth for Toyota, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. was sixth and the highest-finishing Chevrolet. Daytona 500 winner Kurt Busch was seventh for Ford.

Kahne had harsh words for Kevin O'Connell, who was making his Cup debut.

"No. 15 -- no clue who he is -- I saw him a lot today lapping him, but he went low down the frontstretch and then just -- I was going to his outside and he just turned right and just hit me, put me straight in the wall," Kahne said.

Bowyer understood Harvick was eventually going to win.

"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.

Alon Day became the first Israeli to start a race at NASCAR's highest level. He finished 32nd. The 25-year-old from Tel Aviv was named Israel's 2016 athlete of the year.

Day won the NASCAR Whelen Euro race June 11 at Brands Hatch. He was planning to return to Israel, then got the call to race at Sears Point.