published Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

Martin Truex Jr. snaps 218-race losing streak

Martin Truex Jr. races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race, Sunday, June 23, 2013, in Sonoma, Calif.
Martin Truex Jr. races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race, Sunday, June 23, 2013, in Sonoma, Calif.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

SONOMA, Calif. — Martin Truex Jr. snapped a 218-race winless streak with an easy victory Sunday on the road course at Sonoma Raceway.

It was just the second win of Truex’s career, first since Dover in 2007. It put Michael Waltrip Racing in Victory Lane for the second year in a row after Clint Bowyer won here last season.

Truex worked his way to the front and used strategy to stay with the leaders. He then pulled away after the final restart and built a healthy lead of more than six seconds over Juan Pablo Montoya, who was running second until he ran out of gas on the final lap.

Jeff Gordon finished third a week after he was wrecked six laps into the race at Michigan.

Carl Edwards was fourth, followed by Kurt Busch, who climbed back from a pair of speeding penalties.

Bowyer wound up fifth in a strong day for the MWR Toyotas.

The race got off to an inauspicious start before it even began with a pit road accident, a mechanical issue for Jacques Villeneuve and an oil line failure for Bobby Labonte.

The accident occurred as the cars were headed onto the track and David Reutimann stopped his car on pit road. Alex Kennedy stopped behind Reutimann, and Paulie Harraka slammed into the back of Kennedy.

The damage wasn’t significant enough to prevent Harraka from making his Sprint Cup Series debut. But it was a short-lived race for the first driver to advance from NASCAR’s diversity program into a Cup race — Harraka spun and crashed his car six laps later.

Meanwhile, a parts failure caused Labonte to dump oil all over pit road before the race and he was forced to take his car to the garage for a quick repair. Labonte made it onto the track for the green flag, but his engine failed on the first lap.

“It blew up, dude,” Labonte said on his radio. “Something in the bottom engine because it had no oil pressure.”

Villeneuve had an issue shifting his gears and had to stay on pit road for a quick repair before trying to catch up to the field at the start of the race. He made it, but the problem wasn’t completely corrected and he was back on pit road after 19 laps for more repairs.

Busch had back-to-back speeding penalties in yet another race that slipped away. He led 15 laps, lost the lead to former teammate Brad Keselowski, then was flagged for speeding when he went in for a scheduled pit stop. He had to return to pit road for a stop-and-go penalty and was flagged for speeding again.

It dropped Busch to 38th in the running order, from where he had to climb back to steal his strong finish.

His brother, Kyle, also had his share of problems. He was spun early in the race by Juan Pablo Montoya to lose a ton of track position, then gave up everything he made up when he was caught speeding on pit road. Kyle Busch also spun at least two more times during the race.

Danica Patrick, thought to be a contender based on her strong runs in Nationwide Series road races, struggled all weekend to find speed and was done in by a flat rear tire just past the halfway point. The tire issue caused her to spin into a barrier and make multiple pit stops for repairs.

Pole-sitter Jamie McMurray never even led a lap as he was passed at the start by Marcos Ambrose, and his race took a big hit when he later ran off course with a tire problem and lost a lap.

about Luis Carrasco...

Luis F. Carrasco joined the Times Free Press in 2007 as managing editor for Noticias Libres, a Spanish-language weekly covering East Tennessee and Northwest Georgia, before transitioning in 2010 to the Times Free Press webdesk. He has previously worked as an assistant city editor at the El Paso Times, where he also was a pop culture columnist and blogger, and was the founding managing editor for El Diario de El Paso, a Spanish-language daily published ...

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