Martin Truex Jr.’s win at Sonoma broke a tie with Kyle Busch for most wins among active drivers at the road course and also tied Busch for the most wins of any driver in 2019.
1. Kyle Busch
Busch sure looked like he was charging toward Truex after he made his final pit stop on Sunday. But that was a bit deceiving. Busch was approximately two seconds behind Truex when Truex hit pit road a few laps ahead of Busch.
Busch then lost about six seconds in the span when Truex was on fresh tires and Busch was on old tires. Busch emerged from the pits roughly eight seconds back of Truex and chipped into that lead as the race wound down.
The lead did get to below two seconds but Busch never really got within striking distance. It was a deserved second-place finish on Sunday afternoon.
“He was obviously saving a lot,” Busch said of Truex over the final stint. “I knew he was going to be saving a lot, have enough to be able to most likely hold us off. I was right.”
2. Martin Truex Jr.
Truex is currently the driver to beat on road courses. He’s now got three wins at Sonoma — the most of any active driver — and was the guy who pushed Chase Elliott at the end of last year’s race at Watkins Glen as Elliott got the first win of his career.
“All the road courses for us. I think over the last few years, just continue to show how good Martin is in on all these,” crew chief Cole Pearn said. “The more you go back to them, the more you learn, you get better for next time. I think that's something special about our team.”
Truex has the same number of top-10 finishes (five) in the most recent eight races as he did in the first eight races of 2019. The big difference is that his last five top 10s have included his four victories this season. What Truex has “lost” in consistency — he’s finished 19th or worse in the other three races in that second span — he’s more than made up for in victories.
3. Joey Logano
Logano had a really fast car — in qualifying, at least. He finished 23rd on Sunday after he was plagued with electrical issues.
4. Chase Elliott
Elliott is in fourth despite finishing 36th because of the speed he showed before his blown engine. Elliott probably had the third-best car on Sunday and would have scored a top-five finish if it wasn’t for his engine going kablooie ahead of his final pit stop.
Elliott surmised after getting out of his car that he had a belt issue in the engine.
“But yeah, we lost oil pressure but there is no oil leaking, so it must have been a belt, I guess,” Elliott said. “And obviously when that happens, you’re not getting oil so things are going to not work when they’re not being loosened up and have oil to work with.”
5. Denny Hamlin
Hamlin was the guy who finished ahead of Keselowski in the second stage and stayed out as long as possible in the third stage. He drove his way back up into the top five after his final pit stop and finished third.
“We restarted 26th and drove back up to fifth with no cautions,” Hamlin said. “We had a very, very fast car. It was a strategy we decided to play out there to optimize stage points and get a stage win, and take the guaranteed points. It may have cost us a shot at victory, but we still had a good day.”
6. Brad Keselowski
Keselowski and team were just off all weekend. He finished second in the second stage because of pit strategy but started 22nd and finished 18th. That’s about right.
7. Ryan Blaney
Blaney was the guy who finished closest to Truex and Busch. And it felt like he was miles behind both of them.
“We had top-five speed all weekend,” Blaney said. “Not winning speed. We kind of hung around all day. We were able to hang in there and stay out of trouble and able to come home with a decent day and a race car that was intact, which is good.”
It was the second straight top-10 finish for Blaney and the first time he’s posted consecutive top-10s since he was fifth at Auto Club and sixth at Martinsville in March.
8. Kevin Harvick
Harvick finished sixth on Sunday and is now winless with just 10 races to go in the regular season.
The winless part sounds really bad considering the high standards Harvick and the No. 4 team have set over the last few seasons. Here’s how crazy high those standards are:
Harvick’s average finish is 11.1. That’s tied for the “worst” average finish of his SHR career with a 2017 season that produced two wins and 23 top-10s. It’s also an average finish that’s better than any season he had at Richard Childress Racing.
Harvick is going to win a race. It’ll probably happen soon. But even if it takes until race 20 or 22 or whatever, he and the team have still been really good this year. And will probably continue to still be really good. You only have to be great in one race to win a Cup Series title.
9. Kurt Busch
Busch survived an early race tire rub to finish 13th.
10. Alex Bowman
Bowman was a spot behind Busch in 14th. And he did that with no power steering at the end of the race.
“We were sitting pretty good there towards the end and then we lost power steering,” Bowman said. “I hate losing spots like that at the end, but I’m glad we still brought home a top-15 finish. I’m glad I’ve been working on being more fit because I’m worn out and that would have been way worse.”
11. Aric Almirola
Almirola finished ninth despite a spin that didn’t cause a caution. That’s an impressive rebound.
“We went back all the way to last,” Almirola said. “After that, I just had to work my butt off to recover. We passed a lot of cars today.
12. Erik Jones
Jones was eighth and gave Joe Gibbs Racing four cars inside the top eight. He’s now five points away from Ryan Newman, the driver who occupies the final playoff spot. Jones should have more speed than Newman and Jimmie Johnson over the next 10 races and it’ll be a surprise if he doesn’t make the playoffs.
Lucky Dog: Kyle Larson started first and finished 10th. That sounds like a disappointing day but it was Larson’s best Sonoma finish. But perpetual underdog Matt DiBenedetto gets the honor after finishing fourth.
The DNF: Elliott probably should get this because of his engine.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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