Will Rodgers holds off five Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers and earns his first career win at Sonoma Raceway in the Carneros 200 in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
Rodgers led 35 laps, set the fastest lap of the race and finished ahead of Aric Almirola in dominating fashion with a margin of 4.420 seconds. Last year, Rodgers finished under a second behind teammate and Cup champion, Kevin Harvick. One year later, he masters the track and dominates the field, besting five Cup drivers including teammate William Byron who finished third. He credits much of his success in today’s race from his learning experiences last year with Harvick.
“It was very positive for me to have that experience last year,” Rodgers said about having Harvick as a teammate throughout the weekend in 2017. “Being beat every lap out of Turn 11 and on restarts, those are the two things I went back and really looked at and prepared myself to do today. So by having that experience, it definitely helped get us to victory lane. Obviously, everything that Kevin’s [Harvick] helped us with so far has been phenomenal, and I’m very appreciative of that.
“I can tell you we wouldn’t be racing here this weekend if it wasn’t for Kevin, so I’m really, really happy I had that experience last year and was able to seal the deal this year.”
After the opening laps, the No. 10 car of Matt Levin crashed in Turn 10 to bring out the first caution. Hailie Deegan battled a loose racecar and lost some spots after the first restart. Alex Bowman lost his motor after 10 laps of competition. No caution was waved for this incident.
With 18 laps in the books, Hollis Thackeray in the No. 38 Butte Auto Parts Chevrolet stalled at the top of Turn 2. This caution was determined by officials to be the first break of the day. Will Rodgers, who had led every lap thus far, came into pit road for service. Aric Almirola was the first car to elect to stay out on the track and inherited the race lead.
Later in the run, the No. 51 Ford of Carlos Vieira spun on the exit of Turn 10 to bring out the third caution flag of the race. At this point, Daniel Suarez battled his way to the second position with Rodgers and Byron fighting their way up through the field as well.
The caution again came out for the fourth time of the day the No. 08 Chevrolet of Travis Milburn stalled on the exit of Turn 7 on lap 46. Towards the end of the race, Todd Souza in the No. 13 Central Coast Cabinets Toyota lost his motor with 18 laps to go.
With 14 laps to go, Will Rodgers battled his way through the field and passed Aric Almirola for the lead a lap after the final restart. He held the lead and kept it for the remainder of the event. Daniel Suarez and Ryan Partridge rounded out the top five. Hailie Deegan continues her streak of top-10 finishes with a seventh-place result and earns Rookie of the Race honors. This was Rodgers’ first career win in the K&N Pro Series West. He also holds three career wins in the East Series in the middle of his third season of racing. The K&N Pro Series West races next weekend in Oregon at Douglas County Speedway.