Sunday's NASCAR race at Sonoma felt like dejá vu. Another year, another dominant win by Martin Truex Jr. and crew chief Cole Pearn around the California road course in the Toyota Save-Mart 350, outsmarting their competition. Only this time it was with a different team in Joe Gibbs Racing, the third time Truex has drunk the celebratory wine with a different organization.
Here's what went down this weekend in the racing world.
Truex Jr. On A Roll
For those who thought switching teams from Furniture Row Racing to JGR in the offseason would slow down Truex, it's time to admit you were wrong.
Because MTJ hasn't slowed down whatsoever. If anything, he's picking up speed rapidly and showing no signs of slowing down with Pearn atop the pit box. Sonoma marked the No. 19 teams fourth win of 2019, equaling his season total from last season. Heading into the next four races (Chicago, Daytona, Kentucky, and New Hampshire), his confidence should only increase.
Why? How do finishes last season of fourth, second, first and fourth sound? Because that's what he did last season. That run of four consecutive top-five finishes was kickstarted by a win at Sonoma ... which also just happened. Only this year, Truex is arguably in better equipment and has more data available to him at JGR. Message to the competition: watch out.
Career Day For DiBenedetto
A career-best finish at his home track made for an emotional Matt DiBenedetto. The Grass Valley, California native wheeled his No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Toyota to a fourth-place finish, passing veterans like Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman in the closing stages.
DiBenedetto took a "leap of faith" after the 2018 season, leaving Go FAS Racing with no solidified plans for 2019 and beyond. But when Kasey Kahne retired, that opened up a seat, one that DiBenedetto said took multiple people, from Toyota executives to JGR drivers to approve the move.
Nicknamed "Guido," DiBenedetto's career began as a JGR development driver before his driving path took countless twists and turns. Running in the 30s with backmarker equipment for years upon years has finally landed him in a competitive, respectable car. If Sonoma was any indication of the future, driver No. 95 is going to make the most of the opportunity.
New Layout, No Problem
Much of the chatter entering the weekend was regarding "The Carousel," added for the first time in over two decades to celebrate the tracks 50th anniversary. No drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series field Sunday had ever turned a lap on the new 2.52-mile layout. One would have to assume that'd lead to some carnage, right?
Quite the contrary. In fact, there were zero naturally occurring caution flags for the first time since Las Vegas earlier this season (the only two cautions were for stages). Before Vegas, it had never happened since the advent of stage racing prior to 2017.
Although the new aerodynamic rules package for 2019 didn't have a huge impact on the road course racing we saw, drivers post-race were still adamant that it was difficult to complete passes, citing the downforce keeping the cars too sealed to the racing surface.
Dropping The Mic
After 19 years in the FOX Sports brodcast booth, NASCAR Hall of Famer and three-time Cup Series champion Darrell Waltrip dropped the mic when the checkered flag flew on Sunday.
One final boogity and one final call for a legend of the sport.
Hard to believe that’s the last time I get to start the race with Boogity Boogity Boogity, maybe the next guy can think of something better! Good Luck!! https://t.co/e9WydKlgFT— Darrell Waltrip (@AllWaltrip) June 24, 2019
2019 NASCAR STANDINGS
This upcoming weekend, NASCAR returns to the NBC family of networks at Chicagoland Speedway for the Camping World 400 on Sunday, June 30 at 3 p.m. EDT.