Martin Truex Jr. Twist and Turns His Way to Victory at Sonoma Raceway
The Stewart-Haas Racing team came up short for NASCAR’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.
The first road course race of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season is in the books. While Stewart-Haas Racing showed initial dominance at Sonoma Raceway in the Toyota/Save Mart 350, it was Martin Truex Jr. and the Furniture Row Racing team that went home with a victory. With 12 laps to go, Stewart-Hass drivers were running P3, P4, P5, and P6. At the close of the 110 lap race, Truex Jr. was the victor, taking the No. 78 Toyota Camry to Victory Lane for his third win of the year.
At lap 90, Martin Truex Jr. passed Kevin Harvick in turn 11 of the 12-turn, 2.52-mile road course for the lead and never looked back. Thanks to what can only be described as a “fake-out” pit road call right before Harvick and Bowyer pitted on lap 91, Truex Jr. all but secured the win. Despite banking on a late-race caution that never materialized after the pair pitted, it was an all top-10 affair for the Stewart-Haas team. Teammates Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer finished P2 and P3. Kurt Busch secured a sixth-place finish while Aric Almirola crossed the finish line in eighth. Chase Elliott broke up the Toyota and Ford show with a fourth-place finish.
Many expected more from A.J. Allmendinger, who won Stage 1, but it wasn’t meant to be. He shifted into the wrong gear and his day ended early, soon after his first stage victory of the year. Denny Hamlin was the winner of Stage 2 and finished in the top 10. Kyle Larson, who was the Busch Pole Award winner, didn’t gain much traction toward conquering Sonoma as he finished outside the top 10. Watching Ryan Blaney tackle the twists and turns at Sonoma was probably one of the more interesting battles considering he lost all power steering mid-race. Blaney finished six laps off the lead lap and had to use his arm strength to steer the car for a good portion of the race.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway Results
(Position Finished, Driver, Manufacturer, Laps Completed, Laps Led)
1. Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 110, led 62
2. Kevin Harvick, Ford, 110, led 35
3. Clint Bowyer, Ford, 110
4. Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 110
5. Kyle Busch, Toyota, 110
6. Kurt Busch, Ford, 110, led 1
7. Erik Jones, Toyota, 110, led 1
8. Aric Almirola, Ford, 110
9. Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 110
10. Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 110, led 4
11. Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 110
12. Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 110
13. Brad Keselowski, Ford, 110
14. Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 110, led 2
15. Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 110
16. Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 110
17. Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 110
18. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Ford, 110
19. Joey Logano, Ford, 110
20. Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 110
21. Michael McDowell, Ford, 110
22. David Ragan, Ford, 109
23. Parker Kligerman, Toyota, 109
24. Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 109
25. William Byron, Chevrolet, 109
26. Paul Menard, Ford, 109
27. Trevor Bayne, Ford, 109
28. Justin Marks, Chevrolet, 109
29. Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 109
30. Gray Gaulding, Toyota, 109
31. Chris Cook, Ford, 109
32. Tomy Drissi, Chevrolet, 108
33. Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 106
34. Ryan Blaney, Ford, 104
35. Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 57, crash
36. Cody Ware, Chevrolet, 42, fuel pump
37. Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 33, oil pump
38. A.J. Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 33, engine, led 5
Next up on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is Chicagoland Speedway for the Overton's 400. Qualifying will take place Saturday, June 30 at 7:05 p.m. ET. The green flag for the 267 laps will drop on Sunday, July 1 at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN). The seventeenth race of the season will also be Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s debut as a TV analyst. NBC’s coverage of the NASCAR Cup Series begins with the race at Chicagoland. NASCAR won’t return to another road course until Watkins Glen in August and then the much-anticipated “Roval” at Charlotte Motor Speedway in late September.
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