Sunday, 23 June 2013

Martin Truex Jr. takes commanding win at Sonoma - Toyota Save Mart 350 Review

Martin Truex Jr. ended a 218 race winless streak in style on Sunday with a dominant victory in the Toyota Save Mart 350 at Sonoma in California.

Despite missing out on pole, Marcos Ambrose snatched the lead almost immediately. The drama started on the second lap though with David Ragan spinning at the hairpin and Bobby Labonte stopping on track. There was an almost exact copy the lap later with Kyle Busch as he was tagged by Juan Pablo Montoya.

The first caution of the day came out on lap 6 as Paulie Harraka crashed. The race resumed on lap 8 with Ambrose still on the point.

The Australian wasn't untouchable though with the charging Chevrolet of Kurt Bush taking the lead on lap 19. On the same lap, Danica Patrick became the latest victim of the hairpin as she went around. The race stayed under green flag.

A caution came out on lap 25 for rain, the green flag coming back out five laps later, although not for long as the race was back under caution on lap 32 after a wreck for the #19 of Alex Kennedy.

Staying out under caution allowed Brad Keselowski to move up the field as others pitted. The 2012 Sprint Cup champion took the lead not long after the restart, relegating Kurt Busch to second once more.

Martin Truex Jr. took the lead on lap 41 with a fine move up the inside of Keselowski at turn seven. Keselowski lost another position to Brian Vickers a lap tater as it became a one-two for MWR and Toyota.

Martin Truex Jr. eventually relinquished the lead on lap 61 as he pitted under green, handing the lead to teammate Brian Vickers. Two laps later the fourth caution of the day came out when Danica Patrick spun into the wall at turn ten after her left rear tyre went down.

The race resumed on lap 67 with Martin Truex Jr. leading his 21st lap of the day. Denny Hamlin was tagged by Tony Stewart at turn four on lap 68 bringing out caution number five. unusually, the off for the #11 resulted in a minor grass fire at the spot where the Toyota left the road. Danica Patrick moved back onto the lead lap, getting the free pass under caution.

Joey Logano was the leader when the race restarted on lap 71 but the restart came to nothing as Victor Gonzalez Jr. was caught up further back in the field, wrecking and bringing out caution number six.

The restart was attempted again on lap 74 with all cars getting away, Logano leading. Jamie McMurray went off the track however after he got a flat right front tyre.

Logano didn't hold onto the lead though as Jeff Gordon marched to the front with 30 laps to go.

With 28 laps to go Carl Edwards tagged Kyle Busch in the esses, sending the Joe Gibbs Racing driver into the wall and bringing out yet another caution. The other was shook up as the leaders took advantage of the yellow flag to pit.

Martin Truex Jr. was back in the lead when the race got back under way with 25 laps to go , with Matt Kenseth second and road course specialist Juan Pablo Montoya close behind the Toyota pair.

Chaos ensued on lap 87 as David Stremme went around, sending several cars off track, including Dale Earnhardt Jr. who dropped down to 20th as a result of the incident. With 20 to go, early race leader Ambrose had moved back into the top five and was running in fourth, behind Montoya.

Lap 100, yet another incident at the hairpin between Tony Stewart and Jeff Burton ended with both spinning. They were both in the top ten before the incident but after Stewart ran 18th whilst Burton dropped back to 31st.

Once back in the lead though Martin Truex Jr. was untouchable. The New Jerseyite claimed his second career win, his first on a road course after leading a remarkable 51 laps.The win meant that for the second year running a Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota had claimed the win at Sonoma. Jeff Gordon finished strongly in second with Kurt Busch fourth. Truex Jr.'s teammate Clint Boywer came home fifth. Race favourite Marcos Ambrose finished seventh, behind Kasey Khane. Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick completed the top ten.

Montoya's hope's of a good finish were ended on the final lap as the Colombian ran out of fuel. He was classified a lowly 34th.

The next NASCAR Sprint Cup race is the Quaker Sate 400 Presented By Advance Auto Parts on Saturday 29th June at Kentucky Speedway. The next road course race for the Sprint Cup is Cheez-It 355 At The Glen which takes place on Sunday August 11th at the legendary Watkins Glen International.

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