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Truex Jr. Ends Record Dry Spell At Sonoma

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, June 23 2013

Martin Truex Jr. remembered how to celebrate after winning at Sonoma on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)


Martin Truex Jr. ended one of the longest droughts in NASCAR Sunday when he won the road race at Sonoma Raceway in Northern California.

The convincing victory for Truex Jr. in the Toyota Save Mart 350 ended a winless streak of 218 races dating to June 4, 2007 at Dover, where he finished 7,355 seconds ahead of runner-up Ryan Newman.

Truex beat second-place Jeff Gordon by and even bigger margin—8.133 seconds—Sunday.

The Michael Waltrip Racing driver set a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series record for the largest number of races between a driver’s first and second victories.

Truex had finished second six times since his 2007 win.

“I’m just proud of these guys for sticking behind me and working hard and giving me race cars like this,” he said. “My pit crew’s really turned it on lately, and today was just our day. We’ve had a lot of days when it wasn’t our day, and today it was just our time.

“The car was flawless, and I tried to forget about what was behind me and focus on winning. We’re going to get a bunch of them now—I can tell you that much.”

Truex displayed a sense of humor about his dry spell. He could afford to.

“What streak?” he quipped and then was reminded of team owner Michael Waltrip’s 462-race winless streak before he got his first Cup win.

“I had about four years left in me then, didn’t I,” Truex joked.

Gordon said he loved his car Sunday but knew catching Truex Jr. was not going to happen.

“This is one of those crazy types of races where pit strategy goes all over the place and you never know what might happen,” he the four-time champion said. “We were on a three-stop strategy and that’s why we wanted to come in when we did. I hate it for (crew chief) Alan (Gustafson) because that’s the call the crew chief makes and I’m right there. And I couldn’t turn away. At the time I was thinking gosh, I don’t know who has the worst (luck) right now, me or him? The way things have been going on the track for me haven’t been great and the way things have been going with the calls haven’t been going his way either. But, wow, we finally had a race car that was fantastic with this Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet. And the pit crew and Alan the rest of the day were just spot-on.”

Carl Edwards ran third, followed by Kurt Busch, who rallied from consecutive pit road speeding penalties to score his fourth top five of the season. Clint Bowyer, last year’s winner, came home fifth, followed Kasey Kahne and Marcos Ambrose.

“Yeah, we were fast,” Busch said. “Even on pit road, twice. I messed-up, flat-out. I didn’t hit my tachometer right and I was speeding both times. It was one of those where I’m like how does that happen? I just put myself in a position that was poor trying to get too much on pit road. But man, this Furniture Row Chevy was fast. Congrats to Truex. When we were running a lap down with him, I was trying to pace myself. I wanted to get back on the lead lap.

“We did get back on the lead lap when he pitted, but we had to battle hard. We came back up through there. You’ve got to rub guys and move guys and we gave guys room and just made one mistake. I think we could have gotten all the way up to second, but we never would have caught Truex. I just have to thank the Furniture Row guys. We have Simmons, Serta, and Sealy as our mattress sponsors. But I got busted speeding on pit road. My bad.”

Greg Biffle, series leader Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick completed the top 10. Montoya, who was running second with two laps left, fell to 34th at the finish after running out of fuel.

Varying pit strategies scrambled the field after the cars of Kyle Busch and Edwards tangled on Lap 82 to cause the seventh caution of the race. Led by Truex, the top 15 cars stayed on the track, all close on fuel to finish the race.

Johnson restarted 16th on two new tires, while Joey Logano, Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. led a group that changed four tires under the yellow. The new tires made a difference, as Gordon, Kurt Busch and Bowyer all charged into the top five.

But staying out was a winning move for Truex, who built a five=second lead with 10 laps left and cruised to the drought-ending victory.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – Toyota – Save Mart 350

Sonoma Raceway

Sonoma, California

Sunday, June 23, 2013

1. (14) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 110, $304250.

2. (10) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 110, $240451.

3. (3) Carl Edwards, Ford, 110, $192940.

4. (7) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 110, $154860.

5. (5) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 110, $157548.

6. (15) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 110, $124915.

7. (2) Marcos Ambrose, Ford, 110, $139679.

8. (4) Greg Biffle, Ford, 110, $118765.

9. (19) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 110, $145751.

10. (12) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 110, $143226.

11. (8) Joey Logano, Ford, 110, $129413.

12. (26) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 110, $111155.

13. (34) Brian Vickers(i), Toyota, 110, $104455.

14. (16) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 110, $125646.

15. (30) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 110, $131563.

16. (21) Casey Mears, Ford, 110, $119463.

17. (33) Travis Kvapil, Toyota, 110, $116788.

18. (24) Boris Said, Ford, 110, $106488.

19. (6) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 110, $131346.

20. (32) Aric Almirola, Ford, 110, $128866.

21. (18) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 110, $140221.

22. (25) Ron Fellows, Chevrolet, 110, $101188.

23. (17) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 110, $105505.

24. (29) David Gilliland, Ford, 110, $97902.

25. (1) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 110, $126625.

26. (38) David Reutimann, Toyota, 110, $87105.

27. (37) Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #, Ford, 110, $133391.

28. (11) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 110, $129805.

29. (31) Danica Patrick #, Chevrolet, 110, $85855.

30. (36) Justin Marks, Chevrolet, 110, $86705.

31. (27) Jeff Burton, Chevrolet, 110, $90530.

32. (35) Josh Wise(i), Ford, 110, $82360.

33. (23) David Ragan, Ford, 110, $90250.

34. (13) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 110, $109329.

35. (9) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 109, $127383.

36. (28) David Stremme, Toyota, 109, $81890.

37. (42) Victor Gonzalez Jr., Chevrolet, 109, $81752.

38. (41) Tomy Drissi, Toyota, 108, $76245.

39. (40) Paulie Harraka(i), Ford, 89, $72245.

40. (39) Alex Kennedy, Toyota, Accident, 30, $68245.

41. (22) Jacques Villeneuve, Chevrolet, Engine, 19, $72245.

42. (43) JJ Yeley, Chevrolet, Transmission, 7, $60245.

43. (20) Bobby Labonte, Toyota, Engine, 0, $69745.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  76.658 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 51 Mins, 20 Secs. Margin of Victory:  8.133 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  7 for 19 laps.

Lead Changes:  10 among 8 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   J. McMurray 0; M. Ambrose 1-18; Kurt Busch 19-33; B. Keselowski 34-40; M. Truex Jr. 41-61; B. Vickers(i) 62-64; J. McMurray 65-66; M. Truex Jr. 67-68; J. Logano 69-78; J. Gordon 79-82; M. Truex Jr. 83-110.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  M. Truex Jr. 3 times for 51 laps; M. Ambrose 1 time for 18 laps; Kurt Busch 1 time for 15 laps; J. Logano 1 time for 10 laps; B. Keselowski 1 time for 7 laps; J. Gordon 1 time for 4 laps; B. Vickers(i) 1 time for 3 laps; J. McMurray 1 time for 2 laps.

Top 12 in Points: J. Johnson – 573; C. Edwards – 548; C. Bowyer – 528; K. Harvick – 510; M. Kenseth – 481; G. Biffle – 479; D. Earnhardt Jr. – 479; Kyle Busch – 461; Brad Keselowski – 454; M. Truex Jr. – 453; K. Kahne – 445; P. Menard – 445.

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, June 23 2013
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