Toyota/Save Mart 350

Martin Truex Jr. wins Cup race at Sonoma

Leave a comment

Martin Truex Jr. won Sunday’s Cup race at Sonoma Raceway to earn his fourth victory of the year and his second consecutive victory on the road course.

Truex led the final 24 laps and held off a charging Kyle Busch, with Busch having tires that were three laps fresher than Truex’s.

With the win, Truex ties Busch for most wins on the season and for the most road course wins among active drivers (four). Truex also tied Tony Stewart for the second most wins at Sonoma with three.

“Just dug down deep and tried to be smooth,” Truex told FS1. “Luckily I was able to have a big enough gap I could settle in and not feel too much pressure. It was definitely difficult. That was the longest run of the race there at the end for us on tires. It felt terrible the last 20 laps. Last 10 it was just like on ice, no grip anywhere.

The top five was completed by Ryan Blaney, Matt DiBenedetto and Denny Hamlin.

DiBenedetto earned the best result of his Cup career and his first top five in 156 starts. His previous best result was sixth at Bristol in April 2016.

The 90-lap race saw no cautions outside the two for stage breaks. It’s the fewest cautions in a Sonoma race since there were two in 2012.

Pole-sitter Kyle Larson did not lead a lap and finished 10th.

With the win by Truex, Joe Gibbs Racing has 10 wins through 16 races and has combined with Team Penske to win 15 races.

STAGE 1 WINNER: William Byron

STAGE 2 WINNER: Denny Hamlin

More: Race results and points

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Clint Bowyer placed 11th after he had to pit from fifth place for a loose tire in the middle of Stage 2 … Ryan Blaney earned his first top five in seven races and his second straight on a road course … Ryan Newman placed seventh for his fifth top 10 of the year. He needs four more to tie his total from 2018.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Paul Menard finished 22nd after he spun from contact with Michael McDowell in Turn 11 with seven laps left in Stage 2 … Chase Elliott finished 37th after suffering an oil pressure issue with about 30 laps left in the race.

NOTABLE: Martin Truex Jr. earned Joe Gibbs Racing its 326th win across all three national NASCAR series, the most all-time. It breaks a tie with Roush Fenway Racing … JGR earned its 12th Cup road course win, second most behind Hendrick Motorsports (16)

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I just don’t like wine. I’m sorry, I just don’t.  It’s the best damn wine I’ve ever had, but I still don’t like it.” – Martin Truex Jr. on the wine Sonoma winners drink in victory lane.

WHAT’S NEXT: Camping World 400 at Chicagoland Speedway at 3 p.m. ET on June 30 on NBCSN

Starting lineup for Cup Series at Sonoma

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kyle Larson and William Byron will start on the front row of Sunday’s Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway.

Larson will start from his third consecutive pole on the road course. Byron starts on the front row for the seventh time this year.

The top five is completed by Joey Logano, Chase Elliott and Daniel Suarez.

Defending race winner Martin Truex Jr. will start eighth.

Click here for the full lineup.

Kyle Larson wins Cup pole at Sonoma Raceway

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kyle Larson won the pole for Sunday’s Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway.

It is Larson’s third consecutive pole on the road course and his first of the year. He claimed the top spot with a speed of 95.712 mph.

“I felt good in our mock run yesterday in practice, ran a good lap,” Larson told FS1. “Both of these two rounds I ran good. I felt like I overdrove the first session. Then the next session I was like, ‘OK, I’m just going to calm down and not make any mistakes’ and I probably under drove just a little. I felt like through the Carousel and Turn 7 I probably under drove some and gave up a little speed, but felt like I made up some time in other areas.”

Larson tied Ricky Rudd for the most consecutive Sonoma poles.

Larson and former teammate Jamie McMurray have combined to give Chip Ganassi Racing five of the last seven Sonoma poles.

The top five is completed by William Byron, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott and Daniel Suarez. All top five starters are under the age of 30.

Byron will start on the front row for the seventh time in the first 16 races of the season.

Defending race winner Martin Truex Jr. qualified eighth.

In the first round, Michael McDowell qualified 13th and was followed by Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Erik Jones cut his left-rear tire during his qualifying run in the first round. He qualified 32nd.

“Story of the whole year,” Jones said afterward. “Nothing really went my way at this point. It’s not changing this weekend yet.”

Click here for qualifying results.

Starting lineup for Sunday’s Cup race at Sonoma

Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kyle Larson won his second consecutive pole at Sonoma and will lead the field to the green flag for Sunday’s Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.

Martin Truex Jr. will line up alongside Larson on the front row.

Chase Elliott qualified third, the best of three Hendrick Motorsports drivers who advanced to the top 12. Jamie McMurray qualified fourth to place both Chip Ganassi Racing on the first two rows.

AJ Allmendinger rounded out the top five.

Click here for full qualification results.

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. on his legacy: ‘Hopefully, I’ve left a good impression’

1 Comment

Dale Earnhardt Jr. kicked off the beginning of the final lap of his NASCAR Cup career Sunday at Sonoma Raceway.

From this point on, Earnhardt will visit the majority of tracks for the final time as a Cup driver.

Sure, he’s already made his last appearances at Atlanta, Las Vegas and Fontana, but Sonoma and the next 20 races – many for the second time this season – will put a stamp of finality on Earnhardt’s career.

Earnhardt finished sixth at Sonoma Sunday, his second-best career finish at the 1.99-mile road course north of San Francisco.

His recent runs there made it seem like he was just getting started, finishing a career-best third in 2014, seventh in 2015 (plus 11th in 2016) and sixth in his last start – the only top-10s he’s earned there.

Earnhardt grew philosophical after Sunday’s race when he spoke about the legacy he hopes he’ll leave after he makes his final Cup start in November at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“I think the wins and everything are great, I enjoyed celebrating those,” Earnhardt told Fox Sports 1. “But, long after your career, guys come along and win races and some of your accomplishments on the track sort of get forgotten.

“But, who you are as a person never gets forgotten. People never forget who you were.”

Earnhardt at first struggled to find the right words, but then said what could be construed as a self-epitaph of sorts.

“I hope people just thought I was good and honest and represented the sport well,” he said. “I hope people that work with me enjoyed working with me, whether it was in the Late Model ranks or whatever; and I hope the guys I raced against enjoyed racing with me.

“That’s really all that will matter and what people, I think, will remember, as long as you’re alive and beyond.

“Hopefully I left a good impression. I’ve had a lot of fun.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski