Truex Jr. surges to 4th career Sonoma Raceway victory
Published 8:07 pm Sunday, June 11, 2023
SONOMA, Calif. (AP) — Martin Truex Jr. won at Sonoma Raceway for the fourth time in his career Sunday, passing Chase Elliott for the lead after a final-stage restart and holding off Kyle Busch for his second NASCAR Cup Series victory of the season.
The 42-year-old Truex confidently drove his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to another victory on the hilly road course at the base of Northern California wine country, where he also won in 2013, 2018 and 2019. Only Jeff Gordon has more victories (five) at Sonoma than Truex, who earned the 33rd win of his Cup career and his second in the last six races after winning at Dover.
Elliott finished fifth in his return from a one-race suspension for deliberately wrecking Hamlin at Charlotte. Elliott, who has missed seven races this season, twice held the lead in the final stage before Truex blew past him on fresher tires. Truex has seven top-10 finishes in his last nine races.
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“Hats off to my team,” said Truex, who finished 26th at Sonoma last year. “To be so bad last year, and to come back and do that with basically the same car, is incredible. … My team is doing everything right.”
Joey Logano was third behind Busch, with Chris Buescher in fourth.
Truex and Busch, who was 2.979 seconds behind in his Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, had the 11th 1-2 finish of their long Cup careers.
“Not too bad,” said Busch, who won last week’s Cup race outside St. Louis. “Just wish we had a little bit more. I was just trying to keep him honest there at the end.”
Truex appeared to be cruising toward victory before pole-sitter Denny Hamlin spun after he made contact with the wall with 19 laps to go. Hamlin’s car slid sideways across the start-finish line.
Elliott led coming out of the caution with 15 laps left, but Truex surged up on fresh tires and reclaimed the lead for good.
“This is why you go through years like you did last year,” Truex said. “You just never give up and keep going.”
Tyler Reddick started second in his bid to win for the fourth time in the Cup Series’ last six road course races, but the Northern California-born driver steadily slipped down the standings. He got back up to second in the final stage before his pit stop, but he blew a tire with 14 laps left.
Defending champion Daniel Suárez also struggled to make headway after starting in ninth, ultimately finishing 22nd.
Hamlin led the first 32 laps from the pole before Truex passed him in the second stage. The race was caution-free until the 49th lap, when Busch took the lead by not pitting before Truex reclaimed it on fresh tires with 42 laps to go.
After a one-week break, the Cup Series begins its 10-race sprint to the playoffs June 25 at Nashville Superspeedway.