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The Latest: William Byron leads 1st stage at Sonoma Raceway

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Eds: With AP Photos.

William Byron has led every lap of the NASCAR Cup Series race through the first stage at Sonoma Raceway. Byron earned his first stage victory while leading the first laps of his career on a road course. He led Denny Hamlin by more than 9.3 seconds after the first stage, taking advantage of clean air in front of him to dominate the early going.

SONOMA, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on the NASCAR Cup Series race in Sonoma (all times local):

12:53 p.m.

William Byron has led every lap of the NASCAR Cup Series race through the first stage at Sonoma Raceway.

Byron earned his first stage victory while leading the first laps of his career on a road course. He led Denny Hamlin by more than 9.3 seconds at the break, taking advantage of clean air in front of him to dominate the early going.

Defending champion Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Elliott were running near the front when they decided to pit with two laps left in the stage.

Michael McDowell spun on contact with Kevin Harvick shortly before the stage ended, but he pulled out of it and kept going.

Kurt Busch had early tire trouble after making contact with Clint Bowyer.

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12:21 p.m.

The NASCAR Cup Series race in Sonoma is underway.

William Byron got past pole-sitter Kyle Larson on the opening lap, putting his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in the lead on a road course for the first time in his career.

Defending champion Martin Truex Jr. moved up from eighth to sixth early on.

The pre-race festivities featured multiple tributes to Darrell Waltrip. The Hall of Fame driver is retiring from the Fox Sports broadcast booth after the race.

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10:03 a.m.

Kyle Larson is starting on the pole at his home track when the NASCAR Cup Series returns at Sonoma Raceway.

After a week off, the championship race resumes on the hilly road course in Northern California wine country. The track has another degree of difficulty with the return of "The Carousel," a difficult three-turn stretch that hasn't been used for a NASCAR race since 1997.

Defending Cup Series champion and current points leader Joey Logano starts third behind Larson and William Byron.

Kyle Busch starts seventh in search of his fifth victory this season. He's alongside defending Sonoma champion Martin Truex Jr.

Larson is on the pole for the third straight year in Sonoma, but the Sacramento-area native has never won here.

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