● Truex and the No. 19 team for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) set the tone for the season right out of the gate by winning the 150-lap feature in the non-points Clash at the Coliseum on Feb. 5 in Los Angeles. Truex won his heat race, then went on to lead the final 25 laps of the feature en route to a victory that gave him and the team much-needed momentum heading into the 2023 season. While the team was knocking on the door over the next 10 points races, the breakthrough points-paying win finally came at Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway on May 1.
● 32 and Counting: Truex’s win at Dover was the 32nd of his Cup Series career, putting him 29th on the series’ all-time wins list.
● Truex’s most recent win at Sonoma came in 2019, his first at Sonoma for Joe Gibbs Racing, where he led a race-high 59 laps en route to victory lane in Northern California’s Wine Country.
● With 16 career Cup Series outings at Sonoma, Truex has three wins, five top-five finishes, six top-10s, and he’s led a total of 213 laps. His average Sonoma finish is 17.7.
● With his aforementioned three Sonoma wins, Truex is tied for winningest active driver at the 1.99-mile, 10-turn circuit, with Kyle Busch next with two Sonoma victories.
● Road-Course Ace: Truex has a total of four wins, 12 top-five finishes, and 17 top-10s at the three permanent road-course venues on the Cup Series schedule – Sonoma, Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, and Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. In addition to his three wins at Sonoma, he’s also scored one win at Watkins Glen.
● With his fifth-place finish Sunday at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois, Truex heads to Sonoma fourth in the standings with 472 points, 23 out of the lead. The top five in the Cup Series standings are separated by just 29 points as things start to heat up in the chase for the regular-season championship. The regular-season champion will receive 15 important playoff points when the playoffs start on Labor Day weekend in September. Eleven races remaining in the regular season.
● Ahead at this Stage: Truex leads the NASCAR Cup Series with 57 stage wins since the beginning of the stage racing era in 2017. He is the only driver with 10 or more stage sweeps, as well. Truex added to his haul of stage wins by taking the opening stage last month at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.
Why has Sonoma been a great place for you in recent years?
“It’s one of my favorite tracks and one of my favorite road courses. Not just because that’s where I won my first road-course race and where I’ve won the most on road-course tracks, but just the way the track layout is and the way the tires fall off and it gets so slick as the race goes on. It’s just such a challenge with a big heavy stock car with a lot of power. We obviously struggled on all the road courses last year, but think everyone at Toyota and TRD went to work in the offseason and had a good run at COTA until the end of those restarts. I’m optimistic about having a good weekend and hoping we have a shot at a good run and maybe we can get our Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry TRD in victory lane out there this weekend.”
What type of track causes the most chaos in the Cup Series these days?
“The obvious answer to most is the superspeedways and how things happen and how it can take out a lot of cars quickly. However, road-course restarts have become the next-craziest part of what we do. Looking back at last year, we crashed on one of the restarts with guys going five- and six-wide and guys trying to make up eight to 10 spots in one corner. I think that’s the biggest change in our sport the last few years. You saw it again on those last restarts at COTA, we all went up into turn one and someone didn’t make the corner and it cost us and a few others a good finish.”
The choose rule on restarts has been added at the road courses starting this year at COTA. What are your thoughts on adding it to the road courses?
“I don’t think it’s a huge deal anywhere we go, other than tracks that are one-lane dominant, like a Michigan or a place like that. Unless you are in the front two or three rows, and that’s where it makes the most difference, that’s probably what will happen on road courses, as well, and what I would expect this weekend at Sonoma, similar to what we saw at COTA.”