Sonoma holds fond memories for Truex

 Martin Truex Jr.’s 2013 victory at Sonoma Raceway holds a special place among the 17 wins the reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion has accumulated since his full-time debut in 2006.

Coming to California that year, Truex had been winless since his maiden Cup victory at Dover in 2007, a drought that had reached 218 races.

“A long time, very long – don’t remind me,” said Truex, a featured guest at a Sonoma Raceway luncheon on Thursday in San Francisco. “It was one of those weekends where everything just felt right. We had a good practice. We had, I felt like, a really good setup for the race.”

Truex finished 8.133 seconds ahead of runner-up Jeff Gordon, exceeding the 7.355-second margin of victory in his inaugural win at Dover six years earlier. Gordon and third-through-sixth-place finishers Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne all have at least one Sonoma triumph on their respective resumes.

Obviously, Truex beat the best to score his second win.

“We ran third early on in the race for a while and had some pit strategy work out a little bit in our favor,” Truex said. “We were able to get the lead and then just managed the gap and the tires and really were able to drive away on long runs.

“That was awesome. We had a couple of late-race restarts where some guys that were really good there back then – (Juan Pablo) Montoya, I think, was running second for a while… but we were able to drive away and control the race.

“I remember how awesome it felt, how amazing it was, because it had been so long, and I’d been working so hard to try to get back to Victory Lane. Our team at that time (Michael Waltrip Racing) had been so close to winning so many times. It seemed like every time, somebody would just pull the rug out from under us.”

As it turned out, that victory represented the pinnacle of Truex’s career at MWR. He wouldn’t win again until 2015 at Pocono, after he had moved to Furniture Row Racing, the team he led to the 2017 title.