Martin Truex Jr. Holds Off Kyle Busch In Sonoma, Earns Second Win Of 2023by Hunter Thomas June 11, 2023 0 comments
SONOMA, Calif. – Martin Truex Jr. was clutch all afternoon as he won the Toyota/Save Mart 350 and drove to his fourth-career Sonoma Raceway victory.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has been on a tear since May, when he won his first race of the season at Dover, and since then, he has earned two top-five finishes as well as a top-10 throughout the month of May and early June. On Sunday, Truex quickly made his way to the lead on Lap 33, but he fell back and had to battle through the top-10 around the halfway mark. Overall, Truex led 51 of the 110 scheduled laps en route to his second victory of the season.
“They definitely made the right adjustments,” Truex said. “This place is all about rear traction, rear drive and being able to manage that and keep turning and keep momentum. We were able to do that today. The car was really, really good. Just a total team effort. Everybody works really, really hard. We were awful here last year, and at road course in general, so to come back here – this has kind of been a playground for us before, and to be able to get back here with this car and do it again feels really, really special. It’s really gratifying. We’ve worked hard for this one.”
In the closing laps, Richard Childress Racing’s Kyle Busch gave it everything he had to try and chase down Truex; however, he came up short to finish second. The strong effort marked his fifth top-five finish.
“I wish we had a little bit more,” Busch said. “I tried really hard at the end to at least try to keep Martin honest. Felt like I could beat him a little bit on a lap, then I would mess up. He would beat me by a little bit more on the next lap. We were just kind of trading a little bit there. He was able to pull away there late.”
Joey Logano finished third, and Chris Buescher earned a strong fourth-place finish. Chase Elliott rounded out the top-five. AJ Allmendinger finished sixth, followed by Michael McDowell, Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell and Ross Chastain. Kevin Harvick finished 11th in his final NASCAR Cup Series start at Sonoma Raceway.
NASCAR didn’t throw cautions for stage breaks this weekend, which kept the race nearly green the entire way. Denny Hamlin won Stage 1, and Busch won Stage 2.
The caution only flew on two occasions. On Lap 51, the yellow flag flew for an uncontrolled tire on pit road during green flag pit stops.
The final caution of the day came out on Lap 93, when Hamlin cut the frontstretch bend a little too tight and spun after bouncing off the inside wall. Hamlin finished a disappointing 36th after running up front and leading 33 laps during the race.
“I was really close behind the 24 (William Bryon) and I couldn’t really see where I was going and then I went to turn left to try to peak under him, and the wall was there,” Hamlin said.
Truex now leads Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron in the standings by 13 points.
The NASCAR Cup Series will take Father’s Day weekend off, but the series will be back in action on Sunday, June 25 for the Ally 400 at Nashville Speedway. Live coverage will broadcast on NBC at 7 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Logan Riely/Getty Images