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Truex takes Sonoma win after pit strategy works to perfection

motorsport.com logomotorsport.com 6/24/2018 Nick DeGroot
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Video by NASCAR

Martin Truex Jr. earned his 18th career win and third victory of the season, outsmarting the competition in a game of strategy at Sonoma Raceway on Sunday.

Truex led 62 of 110 laps en route to the victory, his second at Sonoma Raceway.

"That's all Cole (Pearn). That's all him," exclaimed Truex in Victory Lane.

"I was just begging, hoping the caution wouldn't come out."

The race went back green for the final stage just before halfway on Lap 55/110. After short-pitting just shy of the end of the stage, Kevin Harvick and Truex once again cycled into the race lead for the restart.

As the drivers settled in for the final 55 laps, it was Harvick ahead of Truex, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch.

Back in the pack, Ryan Blaney struggled to keep up as he battled power steering issues. Ty Dillon encountered issues of his own, stuck in third gear and falling off the lead lap.

Green-flag pit stops began with 40 laps to go, but it was two laps later that Harvick pitted from the race lead. However, Truex did not follow him into the pit lane. Radio communication revealed that No. 78 crew chief Cole Pearn intended to bait the race leading No. 4 into pitting, making them think Truex was coming in the same lap. He repeatedly said “pit now” before telling him to stay out at the last second. After the fake-out, Truex continued on for nine laps before making his final stop with 29 laps to go.

Harvick’s crew chief Rodney came over the radio, telling his driver, “kinda screwed us a little bit.”

Truex emerged seven seconds adrift of Harvick, but it didn’t take him long to cut the gap to pieces.

With 22 laps to go, he passed Bowyer with ease, and then got Harvick under braking into the hairpin just two laps later.

With Truex in the catbird seat, SHR decided to swing the odds back in their favor and threw the dice, calling both Harvick and Bowyer to pit road with 18 laps to go. The hope was that a caution would occur, putting them back in control of the race.

But even without a yellow, they had the pace to regain their lost positions with Harvick retaking second-place from Chase Elliott with nine laps to go. Bowyer followed suit and moved into third soon after.

But it was cruise control for Truex at the front, crossing the finish line with a 10.5 second advantage.

Harvick, Bowyer, Elliott, Kyle and Kurt Busch rounded out the top-five.

"Oh man we all make mistakes," said Harvick after the race. "We all do things split second that might be right after it all happens."

Read Also:

Denny Hamlin inherits Stage 2 win as the leaders pit early

Allmendinger wins Stage 1 at Sonoma after Truex and Harvick pit

Cla#DriverManufacturerLapsTimeLaps Led                                                                

178 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Martin Truex Jr. Toyota11062
24 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Kevin Harvick Ford11010.51335
314 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Clint Bowyer Ford11022.079
49 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Chase Elliott Chevrolet11024.410
518 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Kyle Busch Toyota11026.737
641 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Kurt Busch Ford11034.2941
720 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Erik Jones Toyota11036.6601
810 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Aric Almirola Ford11041.427
988 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Alex Bowman Chevrolet11046.498
1011 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Denny Hamlin Toyota11048.0534
1148 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet11048.343
1237 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Chris Buescher Chevrolet11053.262
132 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Brad Keselowski Ford11055.713
1442 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Kyle Larson Chevrolet11057.7222
1519 mexico © Motorsport Network mexico  Daniel Suarez Toyota11059.287
163 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Austin Dillon Chevrolet1101'06.875
1732 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Matt DiBenedetto Ford1101'13.730
1817 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford1101'15.925
1922 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Joey Logano Ford1101'18.441
2095 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Kasey Kahne Chevrolet1101'19.322
2134 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Michael McDowell Ford1101'26.688
2238 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  David Ragan Ford1091 lap
2396 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Parker Kligerman Toyota1091 lap
2431 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Ryan Newman Chevrolet1091 lap
2524 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  William Byron Chevrolet1091 lap
2621 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Paul Menard Ford1091 lap
276 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Trevor Bayne Ford1091 lap
2815 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Justin Marks Chevrolet1091 lap
2943 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Darrell Wallace Jr. Chevrolet1091 lap
3023 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Gray Gaulding Toyota1091 lap
3151 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Chris Cook Ford1091 lap
3200 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Tomy Drissi Chevrolet1082 laps
3313 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Ty Dillon Chevrolet1064 laps
3412 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Ryan Blaney Ford1045 laps
3572 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Cole Whitt Chevrolet5753 laps
3652 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Cody Ware Chevrolet4268 laps
371 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  Jamie McMurray Chevrolet3377 laps
3847 united_states © Motorsport Network united_states  A.J. Allmendinger Chevrolet3377 laps5

Race winner Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing, Toyota Camry 5-hour ENERGY/Bass Pro Shops

Race winner Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing, Toyota Camry 5-hour ENERGY/Bass Pro Shops
© Matthew T. Thacker / NKP / LAT Images

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