Martin Truex Jr. called it a good day after his fifth-place finish in Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350, the first of two scheduled road races of the season.
But the Furniture Row Racing driver, who won this race in 2012, also knew he had the car to win again at the 11-turn, 1.99-mile Sonoma Raceway circuit.
“We started third and didn’t run outside of the top five,” said Truex. “I felt that our Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota was the best car, we just couldn’t get track position. Every time we would get past the guys that we were racing, a caution would come out and those guys would beat us out of the pits. Little frustrated with that.”
As the 110-lap race was winding down, Truex was in second place, chasing the leader and eventual winner Tony Stewart.
“I took a couple of shots at Tony and knew if I didn’t get by him I’d be packing up and heading backwards which is what happened,” explained Truex. “We just used up the tires at the end, but I had to go for it. Congrats to Tony, it’s good to see and it’s been a long time coming for him.”
There was no question that Truex went for the win. All one had to do was look at his battered No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota after the race.
“There’s a lot of banging and bumping at these road races,” said Truex. “That’s why they are so much fun. Last year we got punted off the track early and finished 42. So today’s fifth-place result looks pretty good in comparison.”
After 16 races Truex remains eighth in Sprint Cup driver points and eighth in Chase playoff points.
Following Stewart to the checkered flag were: Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Carl Edwards, Truex, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch.
The race had 12 lead changes among eight drivers and four cautions for 10 laps.
The next Sprint Cup Series race is Saturday night, July 2 at Daytona International Speedway.