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NASCAR Cup: Martin Truex Jr. scores second-straight Sonoma win

SONOMA, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 21: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, looks on during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 21, 2019 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Carousel or no Carousel, Martin Truex Jr. knows how to get around the road course of Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. He put on a dominant performance in Sunday’s Toyota Save Mart 350 at the track, leading 59 laps en route to his second-straight and third, overall, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win there. His latest win came in the first Cup Series race there using the Carousel since 1997. It also was his fourth win of the 2019 season.

”What a season we’ve turned this into,” Truex said. ”This group, they’re unbelievable. Hopefully we can keep this going.”

Kyle Busch was second to give Joe Gibbs Racing a one-two finish.

Ryan Blaney was a distant third, the only driver from outside the Toyota camp to finish in the top-five in the race that had Toyota as a title sponsor.

“You come into every weekend expecting to run well, no matter if it is your best track or worst track,” Blaney said. “I don’t really go into any weekend expecting to run a certain way. You just try to do your best. You just do the best you can during practice to get your car where it needs to be in the race. I thought we had pretty good speed all weekend. We had top-five speed all weekend, not winning speed. We kind of hung around all day. We were able to hang in there and stay out of trouble and able to come home with a decent day and a race car that was intact, which is good.”

Matt DiBenedetto notched a career-best finish of fourth. A third JGR driver, Denny Hamlin, rounded out the top-five

When the race field cycled through green-flag pit stops inside the final 30 laps, Truex gave up the lead to pit on lap 63 of the 90 lap race. Busch inherited the lead before pitting on lap 66. After staying out three extra laps, Busch returned to the track in second but more than eight seconds behind Truex, who had returned to the lead with Busch’s pit stop.

With slightly newer tires, Busch cut into Truex’s lead in the final 20 laps. By lap 78, Busch was within two seconds of Truex.

”He was obviously saving a lot,” Busch of Truex. ”I knew he was going to have enough to be able to most likely hold us off, and I was right. I just tried everything I could.”

William Byron won the opening 20-lap stage after starting on the front row and taking the lead from pole sitter Kyle Larson on the opening lap. he led all 20 laps of the stage, staying out as many of his fellow-competitors pitted under green in the closing laps of the stage.

The top-12 at the end of the first stage, also including Hamlin, Joey Logano and Larson, had stayed out, while others pitted. When the first stage concluded, they pitted under caution and restarted outside the top-15 after those who had pitted earlier stayed out to restart the second stage up front.

Byron’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott ran second to Byron for most of the first stage before giving up the position to pit late in the stage. He cycled to the lead to start stage two, but on the restart, Elliott lost the lead to Truex.

Hamlin won the second stage that ended at lap 40 by, again, using the strategy of staying out until stage-end. Truex led most stage two but gave up the lead to pit late in the stage. Hamlin wound up in front after most of the field pitted, but with fewer drivers utilizing the strategy of staying out until the stage ended, he and Byron restarted for the final 50-lap stage outside the top-20 after pitting.

Despite pitting before stage two ended, Truex was inside the top-10 at stage-end and cycled back up to the lead to start the final stage after all had made their second stops.

Elliott continued as somewhat of a fixture inside the top-five until he wound up in the garage with a blown engine with just under 30 laps to go.

The two cautions that separated the race into its three stages were the only yellow flags of the race.

Finishing sixth through 10th were Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Erik Jones, Aric Almirola and Larson.

Below, is the complete finishing order of the Toyota Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway:

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Posted by on June 23, 2019. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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