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Truex: Sonoma repave like "running qualifying laps every lap"

A much different Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway will present Martin Truex Jr. with a difficult challenge in his quest to tie a NASCAR record this weekend.

Race winner Martin Truex Jr, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry, winner

Truex's victory at the 1.099-mile road course last season was the fourth of his NASCAR Cup career, moving him into second on the all-time wins list at the track.

Current Hendrick Motorsports executive and NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon holds the record with five victories at Sonoma.

With Truex uncertain whether he will return next season, Sunday’s race may be his last chance to tie Gordon’s record.

Record-breaking speeds

To do so, however, he will have to navigate a much different and faster track, thanks to a repave earlier this year.

“I think for as long as I can remember you would come to Sonoma and you would think worn out track (and) tire wear – a lot different than it is now,” he said Friday. “Now, it is really going to be, pretty much, running qualifying laps every lap with the tires that don’t really wear out, or fall off much.

“Totally different approach than we’ve done at Sonoma in the past, but with that being said, we tested out here – I felt good about it, and it is still the same course. New challenges, same course.

“Hopefully. we can figure it out and go win number five here.”

The changing track dynamic was very evident in Friday’s 50-minute practice session.

Speeds were up dramatically which led to several drivers to spin or run off track. More than half the 38 cars that participated in practice ran laps faster than the previous track qualifying record.

Truex ended up 10th fastest in average single-lap speed and eighth quick in 10-lap average speeds.

Martin Truex Jr, Joe Gibbs Racing, Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry in victory lane

Martin Truex Jr, Joe Gibbs Racing, Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry in victory lane

Photo by: Lesley Ann Miller / Motorsport Images

Truex, admittedly selfishly, wishes the track could have been preserved without a complete repave.

“We had something really good here working, and certainly, last year, we did really well with it,” he said. “We’ve won on both configurations of track here. I’ve won in some different race cars here over the years, different models of cars, different generations of cars.

“I think this could be probably the hardest one to win of all of them, because it is going to come down to track position, and being on the right strategy, having good pit stops – we could see a guy gamble on when to pit, and catch a caution and win the race – kind of come from nowhere.

“I think there is going to be more of a chance for an upset or for a guy surprising the field I think, this time around.”

MTJ remains winless in 2024

A victory would also come at a good time for Truex.

While he has had a solid 2024 season, he remains without a win and in mired in a 31-race winless streak dating back to last summer.

A win at Sonoma would also give Truex his sixth Cup road course victory tying him with Rusty Wallace, Bobby Allison, Ricky Rudd and Richard Petty for third on the all-time series road course wins list.

“The track is going to continue to get faster the more we run on it, and so, it is going to be different tomorrow, it is going to be different on Sunday,” Truex said.

“It is going to continue to change, and we are going to need to figure out what direction to go and what direction the track is going to go, and hopefully keep our car good all weekend.”

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