Toyota MENCS Sonoma Race Recap

Toyota Racing Post-Race Recap
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Sonoma Raceway
Race 16 of 36 – 226.8 miles, 90 laps
June 23, 2019

3rd, Ryan Blaney*
*non-Toyota driver

Camry driver Martin Truex Jr. earned his 23rd career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win at Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on Sunday afternoon.

Truex Jr. led 59 laps (of 90) on the way to his fourth victory of the 2019 season.
Camry teammate Kyle Busch led three laps and finished second for his series-leading 10th top-five finish of the season.

Matt DiBenedetto scored his career-best finish with a fourth-place result. The finish tied the best result for Leavine Family Racing.

With Denny Hamlin’s fifth place result, Toyota placed four drivers in the top-five for the eighth time. It was the first occurrence since Bristol in August 2017.


MARTIN TRUEX JR, No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Finishing Position: 1st

How were you able to hold off Kyle Busch in the closing laps?

“Just dug down deep and tried to be smooth and hit my marks. Luckily, I was able to have a big enough gap where I could settle in and not feel so much pressure. It was definitely difficult, that was the longest run of the race there at the end for us on tires and it felt terrible the last 20 laps. The last 10, it was just on ice with no grip anywhere. Just really proud of all these guys and everybody on this Bass Pro Shops Camry, everybody at TRD and everybody back at JGR – all the fans. Auto Owners Insurance and everybody that makes this possible. What a season we’ve turned this into. I want to say, ‘thank you’ to DW (Darrell Waltrip) for all you’ve done for us buddy, it’s been an honor to watch replays with you calling the races and stuff. I’ve been a big fan a long time so I want to thank you for that and wish you the best moving forward. This group, they’re unbelievable. Hopefully, we can keep this going.”

What makes you so strong at Sonoma Raceway?

“I can’t tell you that, come on! Through the years we’ve seen guys figure things out and it lasts a while. I wasn’t sure this weekend how it was going to hold up with what we’ve been doing now that we have the carousel, the big left-hand corner. It really changed things up. Took a while to figure it out in practice, but luckily, we were able to just make the right tweaks and I had confidence when the track got hot and slick on the long runs that we’d have what we needed. Just a matter if we had enough speed to get there and we did today.”

What does it mean to win here two years in a row?

“Just excited to come back here and win again after last year. Two years ago we had a dominant car and it blew up late in the race and to come be able to kind of get a little bit of redemption for that feels good. Just really proud of everybody on this team and everybody back at the shop at JGR and TRD and everybody who makes this possible. We’ve got some friends here from Bass Pro today and I know they were excited. They were asking me how we were going to be, they wanted to come drink some wine and see some race cars go around and I was like, ‘You better get here because we’re going to have a shot at it.’ Just really thankful for everyone and all their hard work and really excited today, just a big day for us.”

How tough was the tire wear in today’s race and especially in the closing laps?

“It was so tough and he (Kyle Busch) was catching us on his new tires for a while. Luckily, we were able to build up enough gap there when we pitted earlier than him, that kind of difference, once it got made up – we were kind of reset to where we were, he just had fresher tires or so. It was a bit of a challenge, but towards the end there, we kind of evened out and settled in. Luckily, I was able to catch some lapped cars in the right spot and be able to make the moves quick and not get held up there.”

Did the new carousel portion of the track phase you this weekend?

“It definitely phased me. It took a while to figure it out and it’s a hell of a challenge. Every lap of the race, I felt like I had messed it up a little bit somehow and it’s just really tricky. It was fun, it added a unique challenge, but it’s still Sonoma. Still you need to do the same things to be really good here and we were able to do those today.”

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Hazelnut Spread Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Finishing Position: 2nd

You got within a second, but just couldn’t get there. Talk about your finish today.

“I had to lean on the left rear, and I just didn’t have the drive that I needed. I was trying to hold on to it, trying to save it. I knew that was going to be the problem; it had been our problem all day long. When I got close there, you get closer and then you are like, I have to go and pounce on him fast, so he doesn’t have time to pick up the pace. It didn’t work. He was obviously saving a lot; I knew he was going to be saving a lot, and was going to have enough to most likely be able to hold us off, but I still tried with everything that I could to get there and ran real hard. But our M&M’s Hazelnut Spread Camry was fast; I am really proud of Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and the boys. We came here a little better than we have in years past, so that felt nice, but it sucks to finish second to a teammate, but it is good for the company. Overall, Martin (Truex Jr.) is really good here, so I am just pumped that I ran good.”

MATT DiBENEDETTO, No. 95 Procore Thanks DW Throwback Toyota Camry, Leavine Family Racing

Finishing Position: 4th

What does this race say about you and this team?

“I cannot explain how thankful and glad I am that we got a good run that we deserve. It has been a tough year; we just haven’t had the results that we deserve. We have had fast cars. I cannot explain how thankful I am to have this opportunity and how desperate I was to get a run like this for my team and how many people took a chance on me. I can’t explain how many people had to say yes including all of the JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) teammates, Toyota, TRD, the sponsors, Procore and Dumont Jets, team owner, everyone on the team, it took every one of those people to say yes because my path to get here is unorthodox. I didn’t have the funding to get there; we did it the old school way.”

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Finishing Position: 5th

Describe your drive today at Sonoma.
“I just drove as hard as I could drive. We restarted 26th and drove back up to fifth with no cautions. 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. I think at the time we decided to do that strategy the 19 (Martin Truex Jr.) was better than us, but I am not so sure at the end.”

ERIK JONES, No. 20 Craftsman Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Finishing Position: 8th

How would you sum up your day?

“It was good. We passed a lot of cars. I am just happy we were able to come out of here with a solid day. Wish we could have gotten some more stage points, but it was nice to get a good finish. The Craftsman Camry was good; we just needed track position. I think we were probably a few spots better than that, but it’s still good. It’s nice to get back on track. Hopefully this is good momentum for next week in Chicago.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

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