Motor woes doom Martin Truex, Jr.’s strong run in Sonoma

Nigel Kinrade/NKP

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

Martin Truex, Jr. has seen both sides of racing fortune in recent years, especially at Sonoma Raceway.

It was, after all, at Sonoma in 2013 where he claimed the triumphant win that ultimately set him up for ‘SpinGate‘ and the career spiral that followed at Richmond International Raceway the following Sept.

So when Truex’s dominant No. 78 Toyota fell ill and, ultimately, gave out on Sunday, the bittersweet sense of disappointment must have felt all-too familiar.

Truex had the dominant car on the day at Sonoma, leading a race-high 25 of 110 laps in the Toyota / Save Mart 350. The Mayetta, New Jersey native even managed to claim his 11th stage victory of the year, taking Stage 1 and the playoff point that accompanies it.

Through the day’s varying strategies, Truex always found a way to rise to the front, even as his Furniture Row Racing crew struggled through multiple slow pit stops. With the laps winding down, Truex found himself battling with Kevin Harvick for what would ultimately be the race win.

Then, his No. 78 Toyota slowed. He’d lost a cylinder.

“After we made that last pit stop, when we lost the lead to (Kevin) Harvick, soon as I left pit road, I lost a cylinder,” Truex said.

Truex soldiered on, even running comparable times to Harvick and the other leaders after a few laps despite his lost cylinder. But in the end, the New Jersey native’s Toyota motor gave out 24 laps from the finish.

After a dominant day, the 36-year-old finished 37th.

“It’s very disappointing, I mean, sitting there running second on seven cylinders and stayed right with the leader. I mean this Toyota was so good today,” Truex said. “Everyone at Furniture Row (Racing) did an awesome job with it. Everybody back in Denver, thank you for guys for just crazy fast cars. TRD (Toyota Racing Development) stuff has been really good for the past year and a half.

“You know sometimes these things happen, so appreciate all their effort out there at TRD. Make good power, it’s just this one wasn’t ready to go the whole distance today.”

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