When talking about road course racing Martin Truex Jr.’s voice tends to rise a few decibels.
“I love the challenge of road racing,” Truex said. “I grew up racing go-karts on road courses (in New Jersey) and fell in love with that quickly. The excitement level definitely goes up a few notches when we compete at a road course.”
A two-time road course winner in the NASCAR Cup Series, Truex won’t have to wait much longer for a return to his grass roots form of racing. The Furniture Row Racing driver will be one of the favorites to capture Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway, the first of three road course races of the season.
Truex, who will drive the No. 78 5-hour ENERGY/Bass Pro Shops Camry at Sonoma’s 11-turn, 1.99-mile circuit, is a former Sonoma winner (2013) and also won last year’s road race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.
Truex was also in contention to win at Sonoma last year. He led a race high of 25 laps and was dominating the race until suffering an engine failure. He retired from the race on Lap 86 of 110.
Even when his engine started to experience power issues and was operating on seven cylinders, Truex was still running neck and neck with the race leader and eventual winner Kevin Harvick.
“We had strong performing road course cars last year,” Truex recalled. “We had the car to beat at Sonoma. We hit on something and had a ton of speed there. Our Furniture Row Racing team has been looking forward to getting back to Sonoma to finish what we almost completed last year.”
Though he has had success at Sonoma Raceway, Truex is aware of the technical difficulties of the track.
“Sonoma is more like a short track,” Truex noted. “It has a lot of slower speed corners and a lot of elevation changes. The worn out pavement causes tires to wear out fast. It’s almost like Darlington on a road course. You have to be disciplined at Sonoma. One little hiccup can knock you off the course and most likely out of the race.”
Truex, the reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion, enters the Toyota/Save Mart 300 sixth in driver points. He has two victories (Fontana, Calif. and Pocono (Pa.) Raceway) and nine top-five finishes.
His career record at Sonoma Raceway (formerly known as Sears Point Raceway and Infineon Raceway) includes: 12 starts, one win, two top fives, three top 10s and 92 laps led. His average start is 13.9 and average finish 21.0.
The stages for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 will be 25/25/60 laps for a race total of 110.
FRR PR/Photo Credit Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images