NASCAR Cup Series

Truex Jr. clinches fourth victory at Sonoma after Hamlin’s late wreck

2 Mins read
Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Denny Hamlin started on the pole for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway, but a late wreck led to him being the lone retirement. Still, Joe Gibbs Racing had reason to celebrate as his team-mate Martin Truex Jr. completed a dominant day by leading the final fifteen laps following the caution for Hamlin’s crash to score his second win of 2023.

Truex led 53 of 110 laps and held off former JGR driver and last week’s winner Kyle Busch for his fourth win at Sonoma; previous victories came in 2013, 2018, and 2019. Much of Truex’s strong day could be attributed to Sonoma being a technical track without much room for aggression, clean air, and the road course-only lack of cautions for stage breaks.

“It’s tough to pass here, always has been,” said Truex. “There’s only two really good passing zones. Even those are difficult sometimes to get it set up right with a guy, even if he has a little bit older tires. You try to pressure a guy, make him slip somewhere and find an opening. It’s definitely hard to pass.

“Clean air is obviously a big deal. I don’t think it was as bad as last year by any means with the package we have now, with the short track package. I think it was a little bit better than last year, for sure. I could run close to guys. You just lose a little bit of grip. At a track where you’re just sliding all the time, you don’t have much grip to begin with, it makes it tough. But I think for us being the leader, being able to drive away, our car was that good. I could manage tyres easier, not have to run as hard to lead. It always kind of makes the lead look bigger and easier than it is.”

Hamlin led the first thirty-two laps and won Stage #1, but spun across the start/finish line while following William Byron, explaining he “I went to turn left to try to peak under him, and the wall was there.” The crash relegated him to a dubious last after winning the pole at Sonoma for the first time in his career; it was also his second road course pole after Watkins Glen in 2018.

One spot ahead of Hamlin, the lone road course specialist in the field Andy Lally finished thirty-fifth in his first start of the year for Rick Ware Racing.

Aric Almirola, who surprised by winning the Xfinity Series race on Saturday, struggled to a twenty-eighth in a difficult day for Stewart-Haas Racing. Kevin Harvick was the team’s best finisher in eleventh.

With Noah Gragson out due to a concussion, Grant Enfinger made his Cup début in the #42 Legacy Motor Club machine and placed twenty-sixth.

Race results

1819Martin Truex Jr.Joe Gibbs RacingToyota110Running
2128Kyle BuschRichard Childress RacingChevrolet110Running
31722Joey LoganoTeam PenskeFord110Running
4717Chris BuescherRFK RacingFord110Running
5109Chase ElliottHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet110Running
6516A.J. AllmendingerKaulig RacingChevrolet110Running
7334Michael McDowellFront Row MotorsportsFord110Running
8165Kyle LarsonHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet110Running
9420Christopher BellJoe Gibbs RacingToyota110Running
10151Ross ChastainTrackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet110Running
11214Kevin HarvickStewart-Haas RacingFord110Running
121347Ricky Stenhouse Jr.JTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet110Running
132241Ryan PreeceStewart-Haas RacingFord110Running
142624William ByronHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet110Running
151448Alex BowmanHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet110Running
16256Brad KeselowskiRFK RacingFord110Running
171823Bubba Wallace23XI RacingToyota110Running
18654Ty GibbsJoe Gibbs RacingToyota110Running
19113Austin DillonRichard Childress RacingChevrolet110Running
20197Corey LaJoieSpire MotorsportsChevrolet110Running
212331Justin HaleyKaulig RacingChevrolet110Running
22999Daniel SuárezTrackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet110Running
232777Ty DillonSpire MotorsportsChevrolet110Running
243251Todd GillilandRick Ware RacingFord110Running
25342Austin CindricTeam PenskeFord110Running
263542Grant Enfinger*Legacy Motor ClubChevrolet110Running
273621Harrison BurtonWood Brothers RacingFord110Running
282010Aric AlmirolaStewart-Haas RacingFord110Running
292414Chase BriscoeStewart-Haas RacingFord110Running
302978Josh Bilicki*Live Fast MotorsportsChevrolet110Running
313112Ryan BlaneyTeam PenskeFord110Running
322843Erik JonesLegacy Motor ClubChevrolet109Running
33245Tyler Reddick23XI RacingToyota109Running
343038Zane Smith*Front Row MotorsportsFord109Running
353315Andy LallyRick Ware RacingFord109Running
36111Denny HamlinJoe Gibbs RacingToyota92Accident
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for points
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Justin is neither a NASCAR nor off-road racer, but he has covered them for The Checkered Flag since 2018.
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