Martin Truex Jr. won the Toyota Save Mart 350 on Sunday afternoon at Sonoma Raceway. The Sears Point, California, course is just one of two road courses on NASCAR's schedule, and this special event tests car and driver to the limit.
For Truex Jr., it was his second career victory and first win since 2007, as noted by NASCAR:
Truex claims his 2nd career victory. The first came at his hometrack (Dover) on June 4, 2007 #NASCAR— NASCAR Stats (@NASCARStats) June 23, 2013
As NASCAR on ESPN suggested, there was a lot on the line for a few teams vying for position in the Chase for the Cup:
BIG time Chase implications on the line today. A win would be HUGE for a bunch of teams.— NASCAR on ESPN (@ESPNNASCAR) June 23, 2013
There was no shortage of compelling action on Sunday, and there was a bit of excitement before the race even began. With such a big field, the track was tight, and there were numerous crashes throughout the afternoon.
Paulie Harraka and Alex Kennedy both suffered damage when Harraka ran into the back of Kennedy:
Bobby Labonte didn't even make it around the track one time and was forced to retire before ever getting started, as announced by JTG Daugherty Racing:
The 47 car is officially retired for the day.— JTG Daugherty Racing (@NASCAR47) June 23, 2013
Here's a look at how every driver fared on Sunday at the Sonoma Raceway:
|1||Martin Truex Jr.||56|
|12||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||88|
|27||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||17|
|34||Juan Pablo Montoya||42|
|37||Victor Gonzalez Jr.||46|
Order of finish courtesy of NASCAR.com
Rain was a factor on Sunday, with a mild storm front hitting California's coastline just as the race began, as noted by meteorologist Brian Neudorff:
Though there wasn't enough rain to put a stop to the action, the wet track wreaked havoc all day long. It only took four laps for the first dust up, as Juan Pablo Montoya wheel-hopped into Kyle Busch, causing him to spin out, as shown by NASCAR:
At one point, Kurt Busch talked about the water on the track, as noted by Lee Spencer of Fox Sports, saying, "It's like ice, there's water everywhere."
Marcus Ambrose took the lead from the opening lap and was in front for the first 18 laps. Busch began pestering him in Lap 18, as noted by NASCAR Stats, then took the lead with an impressive pass on Turn 4 in Lap 19, as shown by NASCAR:
Lap 18 - Kurt Busch all over the bumper of Marcos Ambrose looking for the lead #NASCAR— NASCAR Stats (@NASCARStats) June 23, 2013
Busch's lead didn't last long, however. After a lengthy caution due to rain on Lap 31, Busch went into pit row to fuel up and grab some new tires but was caught speeding, as noted by Motor Racing Network's Dustin Long. When he went back into the pit for his penalty, Busch was busted for speeding again:
By the time Busch got back into the race, he was sitting in 38th place—one lap down, as noted by SiriusXM NASCAR:
After the penalties, Kurt Busch is now a lap down.— SiriusXM NASCAR (@SiriusXMNASCAR) June 23, 2013
While Busch was dealing with his issues, the rest of the field battled for first place. Martin Truex Jr. overtook Brad Keselowski in Lap 40 with a sweet pass to take the lead, as shown by NASCAR:
Danica Patrick ran into some trouble in Lap 62 when her left-rear tire went out. She spun out on Turn 10 and went into the barrier, as shown by NASCAR, forcing a caution:
Not long after, Tony Stewart got into Denny Hamlin after he wheel-hopped, bringing out the fifth caution of the day, as shown by NASCAR:
Upon the restart, it only took one turn to force the sixth caution of the day, as shown by NASCAR:
Fighting hard to get back into position, Kyle Busch had moved up into 15th place in Lap 82 when he was struck ever so slightly by Carl Edwards, as noted by the official Joe Gibbs Racing Twitter account. The resulting crash forced the seventh caution of the day:
99 got the 18. Kyle spun through the grass, hit the tire barrier with the right side. Lots of damage to the right rear. #NASCAR— Boris for JGR (@JoeGibbsRacing) June 23, 2013
With 10 laps to go, Truex Jr. had retaken the lead—and with just eight laps to go, he'd pushed his lead to over five seconds, as noted by NASCAR Stats:
Lap 102 - Truex is expanding his lead over Montoya, over 5 seconds now #NASCAR— NASCAR Stats (@NASCARStats) June 23, 2013
In the end, after multiple cautions and wrecks, Truex Jr. conquered the field, the track and the weather to win his second career race on the NASCAR series.
Post-Race Analysis for Truex Jr.
A 13-time winner on the Nationwide Series, Truex Jr. hadn't seen much success on the Sprint Cup Series throughout his career.
According to NASCAR Stats, Truex hadn't won a race since his lone career victory at Dover in 2007—a span of 218 races:
Leader Martin Truex Jr. has not won since June 2007 (Dover), a span of 218 races #NASCAR— NASCAR Stats (@NASCARStats) June 23, 2013
For a man who has finished in the top five 13 times in the past three seasons before this win, Truex's victory serves as validation to his hard work and perseverance. As an added bonus, he qualified for the 2014 Sprint All-Star Race, as noted by NASCAR Stats:
He—along with the rest of the drivers—will now look ahead to the Quaker State 400 at the Kentucky Speedway next weekend.
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