A twist this year at Sonoma is NASCAR's new three-stage format, which awards series points not just for the final result but for the top 10 finishers of two additional stages during race.
But at a track where experience and ability can separate the field, Harvick and a bunch of veterans led the way.
His strategy paid off with his first victory of the 2017 Monster Energy Cup season, completing a weekend sweep at the track in the heart of Northern California's wine country. In this event, Kevin Harvick made a rare series appearance to take home the victory and get plenty of track time for Sunday's event where he will be one of many trying to catch Larson.
Truex probably should have won at Sonoma, but engine troubles late in the race saw him withdraw.
"I feel good", said Harvick.
"If we would have, I think that would have been the race winning move".
In fact, Truex led a race-high 25 laps to Harvick's 24 and won the first stage of the race, but the engine in the No. 78 Toyota dropped a cylinder and finally expired, relegating Truex to a 37th-place finish. He was closing on second-place Clint Bowyer when a caution froze the field on the final lap.
Bowyer, now the driver for the entry Tony Stewart used for his final NASCAR victory previous year at the track, was second and Brad Keselowski third as Ford cars went 1-2-3. Harvick had spent 16 years with Chevrolet.
Clint Bowyer, a former Sonoma victor, wound up on the short end of the first round of qualifying, missing the 12-driver cut to advance to the last of two rounds of qualifying by.002 seconds.
"I'm going to be coming back to these tracks, and I want to continue to be part of the sport", he said. "I think, for me, that was kind of like, 'All right, you've got to do something yourself to get better.'".
"It's fun hanging out seeing the cars we usually meet some people on the RV lot we become friends with and hang out with", says Roy.
Jimmie Johnson, who won the second stage for his first stage victory of the year, finished 13th.
Truex took the lead when he passed Larson on Turn 7 of the 10 lap while Harvick was moving into fifth.
During a question-and-answer session with reporters after opening practice at Sonoma Raceway, Earnhardt allowed he might consider an encore appearance in NASCAR's most prestigious race - under the right circumstances.
Ryan Blaney was seventh and followed by Chase Elliott, who is in a backup auto following a Friday wreck.
As with most road course races, several opposing pit strategies shook up the late laps of this race.
Dixon edged Josef Newgarden by 0.57 seconds to claim his first victory at Road America.
Chevy also has seven wins.
In winning for the 36th time in 590 career starts, Harvick took the checkered flag under caution after Kasey Kahne's Chevrolet clobbered the concrete Jersey barriers near the start/finish line.
Two more Penske drivers will start in the second row after Josef Newgarden finished third and Simon Pagenaud came in fourth.
At Baku, Azerbaijan, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo profited from the chaos to win the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, while Sebastian Vettel extended his championship lead over Lewis Hamilton. The third podium place when to Canadian Lance Stroll, whose Williams was edged in a photo-finish by Bottas.