Author: Jim Utter
Date: June 24, 2017
Kevin Harvick returned to his racing roots in style.
Competing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West for the first time since 2007, California native took the lead on a restart on Lap 41 of 64 and held off pole-winner Will Rodgers to win Saturday’s Carneros 200 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway.
Harvick began his NASCAR racing career competing in the Southwest Series and what is now K&N Pro Series West. Entering this race, he had six wins in 22 previous West starts dating back to 1996.
After taking the lead, Harvick checked out on the field, but Rodgers eventually began to close the gap. Rodgers couldn’t make up any ground on a restart with six laps remaining, but on the final lap he was able to close to Harvick’s bumper.
Rodgers never was able to complete a pass before the checkered flag.
“For me, I really just wanted to come out here and have a good time and shine a little light on this series and I wound up in a heck of a race there,” Harvick said in Victory Lane. “There towards the end, Will did a great job of racing hard.
“I was able to get into (Turn) 11 far enough on the last lap where he couldn’t get into my back bumper. It was definitely a lot of fun.”
Harvick said his main goal of running the race was to give back to the series that helped provide him his start in NASCAR.
“That was really what this was all about, to shine a little light on a kid like Will and race against him and give him the recognition he deserves,” he said. “I want to keep supporting the series and bring that bright light on some of these kids who need the opportunity.”
David Mayhew finished third, Michael Self was fourth and Derek Kraus completed the top-five.
Two other Monster Energy NASCAR Cup drivers were entered in the race. Daniel Suarez finished 11th and Ryan Blaney was running sixth when he was forced off the track with mechanical problems on Lap 53.
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