SONOMA (AP) — Martin Truex Jr. won the NASCAR Cup Series race in Sonoma, using a smart pit strategy to cruise to his second career victory on the challenging road course.
Truex easily held off Kevin Harvick for his second win in three weeks and his third victory of the season in his Furniture Row Racing Toyota. The defending Cup Series champion waited to pit until the 81st lap, giving him fresher tires down the stretch and allowing him to pass Harvick for the lead around the final hairpin turn with 20 laps to go.
Truex’s victory in his manufacturer’s title race was the 18th of his career. He earned his second career victory at Sonoma in 2013 for Michael Waltrip Racing, making him the only racer to win twice in the past decade at Sonoma.
Harvick went to the pits shortly after Truex passed him, but never got the caution that would have been necessary for him to catch up.
A.J. Allmendinger won the first stage of the race in Sonoma, but was out of the race moments later.
Allmendinger apparently missed a shift and blew his engine on the 34th lap, forcing him to a stop on the road course. He had taken the lead shortly before the end of the first stage when Truex Jr. pitted.
The early end was particularly painful for Allmendinger, who excels on road courses. The Sonoma race was among his best shots at a victory this season in his JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet.
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