Pete Pistone distributes this week‘s checkered and black flags following the weekend of racing at Sonoma Raceway and World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.
Martin Truex Jr.
The new “king” of Sonoma, Truex Jr. scored his third win at the northern California road course and second straight in Sunday‘s Toyota/Save Mart 350. He put win number four of the season on the board in impressive fashion.
Joe Gibbs Racing
Speaking of impressive, JGR has won 10 of the year‘s first 16 races and shows absolutely no sign of letting off the gas anytime soon. Truex Jr. and teammate Kyle Busch gave JGR a 1-2 finish while Denny Hamlin and Erik Jones gave the team four spots inside the top 10 on Sunday.
And for good measure satellite team Leavine Family Racing gave the Gibbs organization another reason to smile in Sonoma. DiBenedetto scored his career-best finish with a fourth-place run and provided the weekend‘s “feel good” story from wine country.
It‘s been a rough few weeks for Blaney who has not been able to get to Victory Lane like Penske teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano even though he‘s not run that poorly. While he‘s still looking for his first win of the season, Blaney tied his season-best finish with a third-place run in Sonoma.
Talk about “feel good” stories, Chastain is sure providing one in NASCAR‘s number three series. A week after losing an apparent win at Iowa Speedway because his truck failed post-race inspection, Chastain roared back with a vengeance to take Saturday night‘s Gander Outdoors Truck Series CarShield 200 at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway. He now needs to make up six spots in the point standings to go along with that win and secure a playoff berth.
He‘s had a struggle in the last few outings after riding a strong streak of top-five finishes in May and early June. Elliott left Sunday‘s Sonoma race as a casualty of an engine failure in his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
After a solid qualifying effort and third place starting spot, Logano‘s weekend went sour in a hurry Sunday. Electrical issues plagued the defending Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion, who left Sonoma with a disappointing 23rd-place finish.
High hopes for Suarez evaporated quickly in Sunday‘s race. He was forced to start from the rear of the field because of an engine change after Saturday‘s qualifying. Although he did make his way toward the front, brake issues and then an uncontrolled tire penalty on a pit stop cost Suarez any chance of a finish any better than 17th.
A very disappointing weekend for Preece, who had a K&N Pro Series West win Saturday taken away by a controversial penalty for jumping the late race restart. Things weren‘t much better Sunday with Preece ending up 29th in the Cup Series main event.
I was in the minority of skeptics about whether the return of the heralded area of the race track would actually improve the competition at a place that in my opinion had delivered good racing in its 1.99-mile configuration. At least on Sunday “The Carousel” didn‘t make a serious impact for the better as drivers could not take advantage of any additional opportunities to pass.
The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.