SONOMA, Cali. – Martin Truex, Jr. proved the win last year wasn’t a fluke as he held off his teammate to win the 90-lap road course race at Sonoma Raceway on Sunday…again.
Under beautiful sunny California skies, the NASCAR Monster Cup Energy field took the green with Kyle Larson on the pole. As the twists and turns took place around the 2.52-mile course, which reintroduced the Carousel back into action for the first time since 1997, it quickly became apparent Toyota’s were going to be tops on the day.
Truex and his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota team proved they were the ones to beat by leading three times for 59 laps. This was his fourth win of the year, fourth at Sonoma and 23rd career trip to Victory Lane.
The final stage of the race went off without a caution meaning pit stops were important. Truex pitted three laps earlier than his No. 18 Toyota teammate of Kyle Busch. When he hit pit road for his final stops, Truex took back the lead and stayed in the top spot for the final 24 circuits holding off a closing Busch.
“It was definitely a battle going on, as far as the race there at the end for us on tires,” Truex said. “It felt terrible the last 20 laps. The last 10 it just felt like it was on ice; just no grip anywhere.
“I’m really proud of all these guys and everyone on this team and everyone back at JGR. What a season we’ve turned this into. This is great, man, unbelievable. Hopefully, we can keep it going.”
Busch settled for second and, for once, actually sounded pleased with a runner-up finish…this time. This was the 10th win, of 16 races ran, this year for JGR.
“You get closer, you’re like, ‘OK, I can get him, I better go, pounce on him fast, so then he doesn’t have the time to pick up the pace,’” Busch said. “But, it didn’t work. He was obviously saving a lot. I knew he was going to be saving a lot, have enough to be able to most likely hold us off. I was right.
“I still tried everything I could to get there and ran real hard. Sucks to finish second to a teammate, but it’s good for the company. Overall, Martin is really, really good here.
“I’m just pumped that I actually ran good here.”
Following the JGR one-two finish were Ryan Blaney (Ford), followed by Matt DiBenedetto with his career-best finish of fourth (Toyota) and Denny Hamlin (JGR Toyota) to round out the top five.
DW Goes Boogity into the Night
This was the final broadcast of the season by Fox and Grand Finale for Darrell Waltrip as he is retiring. The driver-turned-broadcaster has been in the booth since the network’s debut coverage of the 2001 Daytona 500.
Chastain Triumphs – and Keeps – Truck Win
A week after coming across the Start Finish Line first, then having the win taken away when post-race inspection found his truck to be too low, Ross Chastain won one fair and square. This time, he did it by leading 21, of 160, laps around the World Wide Technology Speedway at Gateway.
The driver of the No. 45 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet survived several restarts, including one with four laps remaining, to claim his second NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series victory. After taking the point on a risky fuel-only pit stop late in the race, he held off early-race leader Christian Eckes to claim the checkers.
“I didn’t want to take tires and then it was up to me to freakin’ hold ’em off,” Chastain said of the stop that left him on older tires. “I don’t know how, but oohhh – I’m going to take that money home and they’re not taking it from us this time.”
In addition to the win, Chastain picked up a $50,000 bonus for winning the third Triple Truck Challenge race. This win does not guarantee him a spot in the playoff as he must be 20th or better in points when they begin. He’s currently 26th, trailing 20th by 38 points.
WNY local favorite Stewart Friesen finished third and moved to second in the points standings, trailing leader Grant Enfinger by 54 markers.
Chicago(land) is My Kinda Town
This coming weekend, all three series will be competing at the 1.5-mile track of Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. Ya know, Joliet…where the Blues Brothers used to hang out.
Proud as a Peacock
The Cup and Xfinity Series coverage switches from Fox to NBC starting this weekend. That puts that Dale Jr. guy back in the booth with Rick Allen and crew chief-turned-broadcaster Steve Letarte.