Larson holds off Elliott in overtime to win at Sonoma

The competition tried with pit strategy. There were also plenty of cautions, and Sunday even went into overtime. But nothing could stop Kyle Larson at Sonoma Raceway.

Larson and the No. 5 team from Hendrick Motorsports were the class of the field Sunday afternoon. On his way to winning for the third time this season, Larson swept both stages and led 57 of 92 laps. He held off teammate Chase Elliott in overtime for his first win on a road course and the ninth of his Cup Series career.

“It was not easy; any road course isn’t easy just trying to keep it on track is tough,” Larson said. “Especially when you’ve got two of the best behind you on the last restart, Chase and Martin [Truex Jr.]. I felt like I did a good job at the one before and stretch it out a little bit and didn’t want to give him another try at it, but he kept the pressure on.

“Martin was strong too, but what a car. This HendrickCars.com Chevy, thank you, Mr. Hendrick. This is unbelievable. I thought I would be OK today, but I just didn’t know how I would race. I don’t think any of us really do with no practice, but our car was really good there and can’t say enough about it.”

Larson and Elliott also give Hendrick its fourth straight 1-2 finish. A week after taking sole possession of first on the all-time wins list, Hendrick Motorsports adds another for 270.

Martin Truex Jr. finished third, Joey Logano was fourth, and Kyle Busch finished fifth. Kurt Busch finished sixth for his first top-10 finish since February.

Ross Chastain finished seventh, Denny Hamlin was eighth, and Alex Bowman ninth. Ryan Blaney completed the top 10.

Two late cautions gave Elliott and others a shot at Larson. Ryan Preece spun and was hit by Cody Ware to bring out the caution on lap 87, and then the stopped car of Anthony Alfredo after a multicar accident on lap 89 set up overtime.

Larson smoothly cleared the field through the first few corners and then drove away as he had done all day. Elliott could do nothing but follow Larson across the finish line, as he did last weekend in the Coca-Cola 600.

Elliott led 13 laps at Sonoma as one of six drivers other than Larson, who spent time at the front of the field. However, Larson was never passed on track during the Toyota Save Mart 350, and the lead changes came during pit stops and differing strategies. On the occasions when pit strategies put Larson in traffic – he restarted 14th on one and 21st on another – he easily and quickly drove through the field and back to the lead.

“I wish I knew (where he was better). I would have tried to give him a little better run, but congrats to Kyle and Cliff [Daniels] and everybody on the 5 team. They’ve been doing an amazing job,” Elliott said. “Really proud of our NAPA group, though; I felt like we were a lot better there at the end than the beginning, and definitely the best I’ve ever been here at Sonoma, in particular. So, pleased with that. I wish we could have got another spot, but (we’ll) try again.”

Charlotte and Sonoma mark the first time that Larson has won back-to-back races in his career. He is the first California driver since Jeff Gordon to win from the pole at Sonoma.

“It means a lot,” said Larson. “Northern California will always be home to me even if I live way out on the East Coast now. Thanks to all the fans for coming out. I know there’s a lot of sprint car fans in the stands and around this racetrack. I got to see a lot of my friends here today. I’ve got family here.

“And to get back-to-back wins in the Cup Series is something I’ve always dreamed of doing, and to get it done feels great.”

There were eight cautions for 18 laps on Sunday and 13 lead changes among seven drivers.

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