Martin Truex Jr. Wins His Third Race of NASCAR Cup Series Season

Jun 27, 2018
Source: Furniture Row Racing Martin Truex Jr. celebrates after winning the Toyota/Save Mart 350 in Sonoma, Calif., on June 24 for his third victory of the NASCAR Cup Series season.

If Martin Truex Jr. goes on to win the NASCAR Cup Series championship again this season, this past Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 in Sonoma, Calif., may be considered one of those races used as a catapult.

En route to his third victory of the season, the Southern Regional High School graduate and Mayetta native executed one of the Furniture Row race team’s trick plays. During the final stage of the race on lap 73, crew chief Cole Pearn ordered the No. 78 Toyota to pit road. Apparently Kevin Harvick’s crew chief, Rodney Childers, attempted to cover Pearn’s move and called the No. 4 Ford from the lead.

But Pearn, by design, called off Truex’s pit stop at the last second, and Truex picked up the lead, which he temporarily surrendered on lap 81 when he pitted for the only time during the final stage. Harvick and teammate Clint Bowyer returned to pit road on lap 92 of 110, but at that point Truex held a 23.826-second lead over Chase Elliott, in second at the time.

From there, Truex had to avoid a caution during the final 18 laps. Fortunately, the final stage ran green from a lap-55 restart to the finish.

“You never know how these things are going to go,” Truex said after the race. “Last year, I felt we had the best car and we didn’t win. And then this year, I wasn’t sure we could beat the No. 4. He was better early in the race. I felt like we caught up to him a little, but he was going to be hard to beat either way.

“To get off-strategy was the perfect call, and then you just hope it works out for you. So, sometimes you’re the bug, sometimes you’re the windshield. Today we made the right call and it all worked out.”

Truex led 62 laps, including the last 20 after he passed Harvick to retake the lead on lap 91. The victory was Truex’s second at Sonoma and the 18th of his career. Heading into the Overton’s 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on July 1, Truex trails series leader Kyle Busch by 150 points. —D.B.

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