Truex: Larson just "drove by me" on way to Sonoma win

Prior to the loss of the NASCAR Cup race last season at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Martin Truex Jr. was king of these hills.

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Truex owns three career wins at Sonoma, including back-to-back victories in 2018 and 2019. In both of those races, Truex led the most laps and won by an average margin of 6.15 seconds.

But when asked if he had anything for Kyle Larson in Sunday’s return to the 12-turn, 2.52-mile Northern California road course, Truex was succinct in his answer.

“No. Our only hope was for it really to go green the rest of the race there in that third stage once we both pit and we were one-two,” said Truex, who finished third and failed to lead a lap, said. “He (Kyle Larson) drove by me and he was just super-fast for 10 laps.

“Our only chance was if the race would have gone green from there and even then I still don’t even know. He was really fast for 15 laps then, obviously, once we started getting all those cautions, we were toast.

“That’s definitely not what we needed.”

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Although Larson needed to hold off his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Chase Elliott over a two-lap overtime to earn his first road course win, his win never seemed in doubt.

Larson led 57 of the 92 laps and won both stages.

In fact, it was very reminiscent of Truex’s most recent victories at the track. The difference was in the result – Larson had been fast at Sonoma in the past, but his previous best finish was 10th in 2019.

Asked why he thought Larson was so much better Sunday, Truex said, “It’s a good team and a good driver. Not making any mistakes and doing everything right and whatever it takes.

“He’s always been good here. Obviously, all the poles he’s gotten, he’s never had a car that could stay under him all day long. I’m not surprised he won. He did a hell of a job.”

Sunday was also the fourth consecutive race won by a Hendrick driver and the fourth straight when Hendrick has finished first and second.

Truex said his Joe Gibbs Racing organization has “some work to do” to catch Hendrick’s performance.

“We’ve got a great team and great cars and we have some time to get with it and hopefully make some gains. When the playoffs start, a lot of weird things can happen and you have to take what you can get,” Truex said.

“Luckily for us, we have some good tracks in the playoffs, which is always good. They’re definitely strong and we definitely need to keep working on it.”

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