Martin Truex Jr. Gets his 4th Career NASCAR Sonoma Win

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Sonoma Raceway, Sonoma, CA — June 11, 2023

This week it’s back to a road course as the NASCAR Cup Series visits Sonoma, California, for the 16th race of the 2023 season and the second of six road courses on the schedule this year (COTA, Sonoma, Road America, Indianapolis RC, Watkins Glen, and Charlotte ROVAL).

Tyler Reddick, of Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin’s 23XI Racing, took the first road course victory of the year at Circuit of The Americas back in March. Now, the Cup drivers will battle it out on the challenging 1.99-mile, multi-elevational road course for the 34th time in series history.

Sonoma History

Sonoma Raceway was opened as a 2.52-mile, multi-elevational paved road course and drag strip in 1968. Over the course of its existence, the 12-turn facility has held a few different names – Sears Point Raceway, Sears Point International Raceway, and Infineon Raceway prior to being renamed Sonoma Raceway.

The first NASCAR Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway was held on June 11, 1989, and was won by Ricky Rudd, driving for car owner Kenny Bernstein. Rudd ran the race at an average speed of 76.088 mph and led 61 of 74 scheduled laps (82.4%).

Over the years, the format and track configuration has changed at Sonoma Raceway. The first nine NASCAR Cup Series races at Sonoma were 300 kilometers, and then switched to a 350k format in 1998. The track was reconfigured to 1.949 miles in 1998 with the installation of an 890-foot chute between the original Turns 4 and 7. The track was reconfigured to 2.0 miles in 2001 and re-measured at 1.99 miles in 2002.

In 2019 and 2021, the track was reconfigured back to the original 2.52-mile configuration, with races being 90 laps – 226.8 miles. Then last season, Sonoma Raceway returned the track configuration back to the 1.99-mile configuration with the return of the “chute.”

There have been 33 NASCAR Cup Series races at Sonoma Raceway since the first race there in 1989 – one race per season – until the 2020 season. Due to the pandemic, the series did not compete at Sonoma Raceway in 2020.

Active Sonoma Race Winners Wins Seasons
Martin Truex Jr 3 2019, 2018, 2013
Kyle Busch 2 2015, 2008
Daniel Suárez 1 2022
Kyle Larson 1 2021
Kevin Harvick 1 2017

 

Today’s Race

Active Road Course Winners (13) Total Wins Sonoma WGI Charlotte Daytona Indy COTA Road America
Chase Elliott 7 0 2 2 1 0 1 1
Kyle Busch 4 2 2 0 0 0 0 0
Martin Truex Jr 4 3 1 0 0 0 0 0
Kyle Larson 4 1 2 1 0 0 0 0
Tyler Reddick 3 0 0 0 0 1 1 1
Kevin Harvick 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 0
AJ Allmendinger 2 0 1 0 0 1 0 0
Christopher Bell 2 0 0 1 1 0 0 0
Joey Logano 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Ryan Blaney 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
Denny Hamlin 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Daniel Suárez 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ross Chastain 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0

Of the five former road course winners entered this weekend looking for their first win of the season, Chase Elliott will most likely have the biggest spotlight focused on him on Sunday.

The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series Champion, Elliott, has been sidelined twice this season from injury (six races) and suspension (one race) and returns this week needing a win to make the Playoffs this season. Elliott leads all active drivers in road course wins with seven (Watkins Glen, two wins; Charlotte ROVAL, two wins; Road America, one win; COTA, one win). He starts 10th today.

Denny Hamlin is on the pole for today’s race, and Tyler Reddick joins him in the front row. They will race for 219.8 miles, 110 laps divided into 25/30/55 laps. NASCAR continues its road course format established this year with no caution at the end of Stages.

Stage One

Denny Hamlin(11) got a big jump at the start, and Christopher Bell(20) followed him past Tyler Reddick(45) into second place on lap one. Martin Truex Jr.(19) ran fourth, and Ty Gibbs (54) held down the fifth spot early.

Daniel Suarez(99) made a serious mistake on lap one, downshifting into first, possibly mixing up the shift pattern with the Next Gen car’s inline shifter with the four-speed H-pattern he ran in yesterday’s Xfinity race. Over-revving the engine and possibly doing damage that could appear later in the race.

With no Stage ending caution, pit stop strategy could be based on who needs Stage points and who can afford to sacrifice them to position themselves for a late race run at the win.

Truex worked his way to second mid-way through the first Stage, and AJ Allmendinger(16) joined the top five. Out front, Hamlin built almost a four-second lead over Truex.

Stage One Results

POS CAR DRIVER POINTS
1 11 Denny Hamlin 10
2 19 Martin Truex Jr. 9
3 20 Christopher Bell 8
4 16 AJ Allmendinger 7
5 34* Michael McDowell 6
6 45 Tyler Reddick 5
7 17* Chris Buescher 4
8 54 Ty Gibbs # 3
9 48 Alex Bowman 2
10 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 1

*Ford Mustang Drivers

Stage Two

The leaders pitted shortly after the end of Stage One, and Hamlin was able to return to the lead spot. Chase Elliott(9) was the big winner during the sequence, advancing to the third position. Elliott was one of the drivers who pitted before the end of the Stage.

Eight laps into Stage Two, Truex passed Hamlin for the top spot. The first lead change of the race.

With 10 laps to go in Stage Two, Truex led. Followed by Hamlin, Bell, Elliott, and Kyle Larson(5). Pit stops began for those who are on the four-stop strategy. Trying to make the distance on just three stops will require the driver to go well past the end of Stage Two before stopping.

Zane Smith’s(38) crew brought out the first caution flag of the day with an issue on the pit road. After changing the right-side tires, the used Goodyears were rolled to the pit wall. The right front tire was not caught. It bounced off the pit wall, and Smith hit the tire exiting his pit. A loose tire on pit road is considered a safety hazard, so NASCAR displayed the caution to allow a crewmember to rescue the wayward tire/wheel assembly.

Under the caution, all the leaders pitted, scrambling the running order for the restart with two laps to go in the Stage. Kyle Busch(8) led, Joey Logano(22) shut down Ross Chastain(1) to hold second place, William Byron(24) ran fourth, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.(17) fifth.

Stage Two Results

POS CAR DRIVER POINTS
1 8 Kyle Busch 10
2 22 Joey Logano* 9
3 1 Ross Chastain 8
4 24 William Byron 7
5 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 6
6 3 Austin Dillon 5
7 19 Martin Truex Jr. 4
8 34 Michael McDowell* 3
9 20 Christopher Bell 2
10 4 Kevin Harvick* 1

*Ford Mustang Drivers

The Final Stage

Truex was the first of the former leaders to return to the top five when he moved into fifth place on Lap 58. How the three vs four-stop strategies work out remains to be seen.

Michael McDowell(34) ran in the top ten for most of the first half of the race. He joined the top five on lap 61.

Ty Gibbs got into the rear bumper of Austin Dillon(3), causing Dillon to spin off the course. He rejoined the race without the need for a caution.

With 42 laps to go, Truex passed Kyle Busch to move back into the lead. Logano ran third, with McDowell up to fourth and Chastain in the fifth position.

Green flag pit stops began with 37 laps to go. Logano was the first of the leaders to come to pit road. Truex pitted out of the lead a lap later.

Elliott inherited the lead and choose to stay out a little longer. His pit stop came with 30 laps to go. Truex returned to the lead when Elliott pitted. Busch, Logano, Bell, and McDowell were the leaders after all pit stops were completed.

The Finish

With 19 laps to go, Hamlin bounced off the inside wall and spun on the front stretch, bringing out the second caution of the day. Elliott, Reddick, and Ryan Blaney(12) stayed on the track while the remainder of the field pitted for fresh tires.

Restarting with 15 laps to go, Truex and Busch quickly moved past Reddick. A lap later, the duo passed Elliott. Logano ran fourth and Blaney fifth. Truex is clearly the fastest car on the track. Busch is able to keep him in sight but can not get close enough to attempt a pass. Unless Truex has a problem or makes a mistake.

Truex kept inching ahead of Busch while running away from the remainder of the pack. McDowell tapped Blaney and spun him off the track. He got back to racing without a caution, and a few corners later, Chase Briscoe(14) sent him around again. Worn tires may have contributed to Blaney holding up cars moving forward.

Avoiding potential cautions, Treux could breathe a small sigh of relief. With three laps to go, he led Busch by just over two seconds. Logano, in third, was seven seconds behind the leader.

With his second win of the 2023 season, Treux(age 42) became the 2nd oldest NASCAR road course winner. The oldest? Tony Stewart(age 45) when he won his last NASCAR race as a driver in June of 2016.

Playoff Standings

RK DRIVER POINTS STATUS
1 William Byron(Points Leader) 512 In Win(3)
2 Kyle Busch 496 In Win(3)
3 Martin Truex Jr. 525 In Win(2)
4 Kyle Larson 440 In Win(2)
5 Ryan Blaney* 501 In Win
6 Christopher Bell 493 In Win
7 Denny Hamlin 462 In Win
8 Joey Logano* 444 In Win
9 Tyler Reddick 420 In Win
10 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 400 In Win
11 Ross Chastain 501 +173
12 Kevin Harvick* 500 +172
13 Chris Buescher* 430 +102
14 Brad Keselowski* 424 +96
15 Bubba Wallace 354 +26
16 Alex Bowman 331 +3
NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Cut Line
17 Daniel Suarez 328 -3
18 Ty Gibbs 320 -11
19 Michael McDowell* 317 -14
20 AJ Allmendinger 298 -33
21 Austin Cindric* 292 -39
22 Corey LaJoie 291 -40
23 Justin Haley 284 -47
24 Todd Gilliland* 279 -52
25 Ryan Preece* 269 -62

*Ford Mustang Driver

Race Results from Sonoma Raceway

POS CAR DRIVER BEHIND LAPS
1 19 Martin Truex Jr. 109
2 8 Kyle Busch 3.303 109
3 22 Joey Logano 7.299 109
4 17 Chris Buescher 8.986 109
5 9 Chase Elliott 11.250 109
6 16 AJ Allmendinger 12.471 109
7 34 Michael McDowell 13.524 109
8 20 Christopher Bell 14.056 109
9 5 Kyle Larson 14.268 109
10 1 Ross Chastain 14.843 109
11 4 Kevin Harvick 15.486 109
12 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 16.017 109
13 41 Ryan Preece 16.804 109
14 24 William Byron 17.124 109
15 48 Alex Bowman 18.370 109
16 6 Brad Keselowski 19.060 109
17 23 Bubba Wallace 19.802 109
18 54 Ty Gibbs 20.762 109
19 3 Austin Dillon 21.504 109
20 7 Corey LaJoie 22.418 109
21 31 Justin Haley 23.371 109
22 99 Daniel Suarez 27.150 109
23 77 Ty Dillon 28.173 109
24 51 Todd Gilliland 29.333 109
25 2 Austin Cindric 30.304 109
26 42 Grant Enfinger 31.049 109
27 21 Harrison Burton 33.060 109
28 14 Chase Briscoe 34.810 109
29 10 Aric Almirola 35.120 109
30 78 Josh Bilicki 35.508 109
31 12 Ryan Blaney 41.294 109
32 43 Erik Jones -1 108
33 45 Tyler Reddick -1 108
34 38 Zane Smith -1 108
35 15 Andy Lally -1 108
36 11 Denny Hamlin -17 92