Truex, Busch in another 1-2 finish

Martin Truex Jr. heads to the finish line to win Sunday’s Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway. Photo by David Barks

Martin Truex Jr. wins NASCAR’s Cup race Sunday at Sonoma Raceway

SONOMA, CA – There was no stopping Martin Truex Jr. Sunday afternoon at Sonoma Raceway.

Truex had a dominant day, winning NASCAR’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 Cup Series race in the heart of the Northern California wine country.

“Man, it just feels incredible to have a day like that and a run like that and a team like I have. They’re doing everything right, and it’s a lot of fun to drive these cars – This is why you go through years like we had last year (a winless season). You just keep fighting. You never give up on it. You always believe in each other,” said Truex. “It takes a total team effort. Thanks to Coach (Joe Gibbs) and everybody.”

Martin Truex Jr. is interviewed by Fox’s Jamie Little after winning the Toyota / Save Mart 350 Sunday at Sonoma Raceway. Photo by David Barks

It was Truex’s second win of the 2023 season, not counting his season-opening win at The Clash at the Coliseum, a non-points exhibition race that kicked off the year in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

It was Truex’s fourth win in Sonoma and 33rd of his career.

Kyle Busch gave his former Joe Gibbs Racing teammate a run for the money, ultimately finishing second, nearly three seconds back.

“I wish we had a little bit more,” said Busch, who won last week at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois, just outside of St. Louis. “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.”

This was the 10th time Truex and Busch had a 1-2 finish including the 2019 Sonoma race, also won by Truex.

It was a tough day for Denny Hamlin. He went from first to last.

Hamlin started on the pole, led the first 33 laps, and won the 25-lap Stage 1.

His promising day ended early – on lap 92 of the 110-lap race over Sonoma’s 1.99-mile, 12-turn road course – when a toe link broke coming out of Turn 11, causing Hamlin to crash into the inside wall and then bounce into the outside wall, sending him behind the wall and out of the race, finishing in last place.

Truex started eighth but quickly jumped to fourth place before the end of the first lap.

He moved into second place on lap 12 and followed Hamlin, his Gibbs teammate, through the end of the stage.

Martin Truex Jr. celebrates his victory Sunday at Sonoma Raceway. Photo by David Barks

Truex repeatedly fought for the lead, trying to take it on laps 30, 31, and 32.

He finally got past Hamlin in Turn 11 of lap 33 and kept increasing his lead when the day’s first caution flag flew on lap 51 for an uncontrolled tire rolling on pit road.

That sent the leaders to the pits.

However, nine cars – led by Busch – stayed out, putting Truex in 10th place on the restart.

“We gave it everything that we had. We made a lot of changes. We got a lucky break there with a yellow with only three laps on tires, so we were able to kind of cycle to the front,” said Busch. “Once we got up there, we could maintain pace with some of the good cars and have a good top-three-speed race car. Just kind of flip-flopped the race a little bit.”

The race had the usual stages but no stage breaks so there were only three laps remaining in Stage 2 when the race resumed.

Busch held on for the stage win. Truex picked up points for finishing the stage in seventh place.

The race kept going and Truex kept moving forward.

He was right behind Busch on lap 63, caught him in Turn 11 of lap 68 but lost the lead a during green flag pit stop on lap 75.

Truex was back in front on lap 80 but lost it again after pitting during the race’s second, and final, caution when Hamlin ran into trouble on lap 92.

Chase Elliott, Tyler Reddick, and Ryan Blaney stayed on the track, putting Truex in fourth and Busch in fifth on the restart with 15 laps to go, but there were too many laps left for them to hold off Truex and Busch on older tires.

Martin Truex Jr. does a burnout after winning Sunday’s NASCAR race in Sonoma. Photo by David Barks

Truex and Busch were 1-2 again at the end of lap 96 and it was a two-man race to the finish line.

“We’ve had some great races over the years,” said Truex. We’ve had 1-2 finishes a lot of times. I’d race him anytime. I’m just happy he didn’t get close at the end.”

Joey Logano finished third, followed by Chris Buescher, Elliott, AJ Allmendinger, Michael McDowell, Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell, and Ross Chastain.

With the win, Truex moved up from fourth into the lead in the season points standings.

NASCAR has next week off before resuming the season in Nashville the weekend of June 23rd with a Camping World Truck Series race on Friday, June 23, Xfinity racing on Saturday, June 24, and the Cup race on Sunday, June 25.

Denny Hamlin (11) leads the field at the start of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race at Sonoma Speedway. Photo by David Barks
Martin Truex Jr. celebrates his victory Sunday at Sonoma Raceway. Photo by David Barks
NASCAR Cup racers drive through Turn 11 at Sonoma Raceway during Sunday’s Toyota / Save Mart 350. Photo by David Barks.
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