NASCAR – NASCAR at Sonoma Raceway results, standings: Martin Truex Jr. dominates in third win of the season

NASCAR – NASCAR at Sonoma Raceway results, standings: Martin Truex Jr. dominates in third win of the season


Martin Truex Jr. won his third race of the season on Sunday, smoking the field at Sonoma Raceway after capitalizing on pit strategy. The win is Truex’s second at Sonoma and second in a row at a road course. Truex drove the No. 78 to Victory Lane during his championship run last year at Watkins Glen.

Furniture Row Racing crew chief Cole Pearn told Truex to pit during green flag stops in the Final Stage, but decided against it at the last second. After hearing Truex would be coming down, Harvick pitted from the front of the field only to discover the No. 78 was planning to stay out and make one less pit stop than the rest of the field.

Harvick indeed had to come down pit road in hopes of a caution late in the race, as Truex held more than a 20-second lead over the rest of the field at times before driving on to win in dominant fashion. 

Truex led nearly every lap in Stage 1 after taking the lead from pole-starter Kyle Larson, but decided to play strategy and pit before the green-and-white checkered, allowing road-ringer AJ Allmendinger to earn his first stage victory of the season. Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott and Larson finished the stage in the top five. 

Heartbreak for Allmendinger struck halfway through the second stage, when the No. 47 driver missed a shift and blew his engine. Allmendinger needed to be towed off the racetrack as his day ended prematurely.

Again, the leaders came into the pits at the end of the stage in an effort to win the race. Harvick was in position to win the stage, but chose to get tires alongside Truex and Clint Bowyer with three to go. Denny Hamlin assumed the race lead and drove on to win his second stage of the year. Elliott finished the stage second followed by Johnson, Keselowski and Blaney. 

Toyota/Save Mart 350 results

  1. Martin Truex Jr.
  2. Kevin Harvick
  3. Clint Bowyer
  4. Chase Elliott
  5. Kyle Busch
  6. Kurt Busch
  7. Erik Jones
  8. Aric Almirola
  9. Alex Bowman
  10. Denny Hamlin
  11. Jimmie Johnson
  12. Chris Buescher
  13. Brad Keselowski
  14. Daniel Suarez
  15. Kyle Larson
  16. Austin Dillon
  17. Matt DiBenedetto
  18. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  19. Joey Logano
  20. Kasey Kahne
  21. Michael McDowell
  22. David Ragan
  23. Parker Kligerman
  24. Ryan Newman
  25. William Byron
  26. Paul Menard
  27. Trevor Bayne
  28. Justin Marks
  29. Bubba Wallace
  30. Gray Gaulding
  31. Chris Cook
  32. Ty Dillon
  33. Ryan Blaney
  34. Cole Whitt
  35. Cody Ware
  36. Jamie McMurray
  37. AJ Allmendinger

Unofficial NASCAR Cup Series regular season standings

1.

Kyle Busch

18

696

LEADER

4

2.

Kevin Harvick

4

624

-72

5

3.

Joey Logano

22

585

-112

1

4.

Brad Keselowski

2

554

-142

0

5.

Martin Truex Jr.

78

546

-150

3

6.

Clint Bowyer

14

544

-152

2

7.

Kurt Busch

41

524

-172

0

8.

Denny Hamlin

11

505

-191

0

9.

Kyle Larson

52

472

-224

0

10.

Aric Almirola

10

471

-225

0

11.

Ryan Blaney

12

466

-230

0

12.

Jimmie Johnson

48

419

-277

0

13.

Chase Elliott

9

411

-285

0

14.

Erik Jones

20

376

-320

0

15.

Alex Bowman

88

363

-333

0

16.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

17

346

-350

0

17.

Paul Menard

21

338

-358

0

18.

Austin Dillon

3

313

-383

1

19.

Daniel Suarez

19

290

-406

0

20.

William Byron

24

289

-407

0

Stage 1: Truex takes control out west

Larson started from the pole and led the first few laps before surrendering the top spot to Truex Jr. Larson fell back to third as road-ringer AJ Allmendinger moved into second. Truex, the last driver to win at a road course (Watkins Glen), showed dominance early on, continuing to build the lead once he got it as Harvick took second from Allmendinger.

Harvick’s teammate Bowyer showed promise early on, moving up inside the top five after qualifying 19th while Erik Jones suffered some heavy damage, getting into Michael McDowell as things got started. He was able to drive on competitively without caution. 

As Jimmie Johnson moved into the top five, Truex continued to lead Harvick. The leaders then decided to pit with two to go in the stage, forfeiting the lead over to Allmendinger, who drove on to claim his first green-and-white checkered.

Stage 1 results

  1. AJ Allmendinger (10 points plus 1 playoff point)
  2. Brad Keselowski (9 points)
  3. Jimmie Johnson (8 points)
  4. Chase Elliott (7 points)
  5. Kyle Larson (6 points)
  6. Ryan Newman (5 points)
  7. Aric Almirola (4 points)
  8. Daniel Suarez (3 points)
  9. Chris Buescher (2 points)
  10. Kasey Kahne (1 point)

Stage 2: Truex and Harvick dominate again

While Truex wasn’t able to win Stage 1, his and Harvick’s strategy allowed them to start Stage 2 from the front row. While the No. 78 began building another lead, Stage 1 winner Allmendinger missed a shift and saw his engine blow. Allmendinger had to be towed to the garage as the first incident related caution flag of the day flew.

Jamie McMurray also suffered mechanical issues around the same time and had to be pushed to the garage. McMurray started the race inside the top five and was having a solid afternoon.

Truex led the field to green on the restart with Harvick in his rearview. With less than 10 to go in the stage, Harvick took the lead from the No. 78 for the first time. While the No. 4 could have easily gone on to win the stage, again the leaders opted to pit before the end in an effort to win the race.

After Truex, Harvick and Bowyer pitted, Hamlin assumed the race lead and drove on to win his second stage of the season. 

Stage 2 results

  1. Denny Hamlin (10 points plus 1 playoff point)
  2. Chase Elliott (9 points)
  3. Jimmie Johnson (8 points)
  4. Brad Keselowski (7 points)
  5. Ryan Blaney (6 points)
  6. Aric Almirola (5 points) 
  7. Alex Bowman (4 points) 
  8. Ryan Newman (3 points) 
  9. Michael McDowell (2 points) 
  10. Chris Buescher (1 point)

Final Stage: No. 78 team takes strategy to the next level

Harvick led the field to green to start the stage followed by Truex, Bowyer and the Busch brothers. As Harvick continued to pace the field, Ryan Blaney suffered power steering issues and dropped way back out of the top 30.

Larson, Paul Menard and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. got green flag pit stops going with around 40 to go in the race. A couple of laps later, Harvick followed while Truex, who was reportedly pitting, and Bowyer stayed out. Bowyer followed on the next lap as Truex continued to stay out in the lead.

With 30 to go, Truex finally came down pit road, splitting the stage in a strategy move. Elliott also followed the same strategy, following the No. 78 down pit road. Kurt Busch and Keselowski followed on the next lap.

Erik Jones was the final car to hit pit road with 27 to go in the race. As Jones pit from the lead, Harvick simultaneously reclaimed the top spot ahead of Bowyer and Truex not far behind. Less than 10 laps later, Truex took second from Bowyer with Harvick in his sights.

Truex wasted no time catching Harvick with 20 to go and immediately building a huge lead. Harvick even hit the pits two laps later, in hopes that a caution would come out late in the race.

Unfortunately for everyone not named Truex, that caution never came out and the No. 78 drove on to win its third race of the season.

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