By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
SONOMA, California — For the second time in his career, Martin Truex, Jr. scored a win at Sonoma Raceway, ending the streak of nine different winners in nine years.
After being heartbroken last year, Truex spoke about his two wins during the press conference, saying how he still recalls winning in 2013 for at the time, Michael Waltrip Racing, and treats each win as if it’ll be his last.
“I remember that win like it was yesterday. It was huge,” said Truex. “I really feel like I treat every win the same as I did that day. You never know when your last one is going to be.
“I went through a lot between my first win in my career (at Dover in 2007) and that first win here, and so I really had a complete different outlook, I guess, from my first one to that one, and I think since that one I’ve really felt the same on all of them, that I feel really privileged, really blessed and really lucky to be in the position I’m in for a lot of reasons.
“You never know what’s going to happen tomorrow even, so I try to live in the moment as best as I can and enjoy as much as I can. People asked where does this win rank. It’s hard to rank them because they’re all so special, and I know how hard they are to get.”
Truex, who led a race-high 62 of 110 laps, sealed a convincing victory over Kevin Harvick after crew chief Cole Pearn brought him in with 30 laps to go.
Harvick, who relied on a late-race caution to put him in the hunt for his second straight win at Sonoma, made his last stop on Lap 92, but the caution didn’t came out, showcasing Pearn’s brilliance when it comes to pit strategy.
Truex jokingly said that Pearn went to Hollywood to take acting class in response of snookering the field, but he trusted Pearn’s judgement of making his final stop when he did.
“I just drive the car. That’s what I do,” said Truex. “Cole and I have a great relationship. I never question him when he’s calling the right decision. The things going on when’s talking to me in the car is just ‘yes or no’ answers for me. When he told me to pit, I was like ‘okay, I’m gonna pit.’ If he said don’t pit, so I’m like ‘fine I’m just gonna stay out.”
Truex added that when Harvick pitted earlier than him, Pearn told him to run nine more laps.
“I knew the situation I was in sort of because anytime someone pits before you at a track like this, you know you’re going to be on older tires,” Truex added. “I wanted to maximize the time I lose by not making any mistakes. Making sure I get everything out of every lap, and if I catch traffic, make sure to time it right. So it worked good.”
Pearn described about if he has pride on snookering the competition.
“I think you’ve got to take the opportunities when they present themselves,” said Pearn. “We were fortunate last year we had a really great car, by far better than they were, and they were the second-best car, and we blew up and they won. So fortunate enough for us to work and win. But you never know what’s going to happen in the future, but at the end of the day, we really wanted to win today, and proud it worked out.”
If Harvick didn’t pit, it wouldn’t have mattered to Pearn, and kept his driver out for those amount of laps.
“The whole intention was to stay out,” said Truex. “We had a lap in mind that we were going to pit at, and it was just trying to get ourselves off sequence from them.”
The defending series champion told Motorsports Tribune that beating Harvick is a great feeling because he knows that he’s beaten the best in the sport.
“I think we feel great when we beat him, not only him but his whole team. They do an amazing job and they’re great competitors,” said Truex of Harvick and Stewart-Haas Racing’s success. “They’ve got a really good group of guys that are going to be tough to beat all season long. Anytime that you can beat those guys, it feels good. But just racing with him is fun.
“Today we played a little cat and mouse early in the race and went back and forth, and felt like he was a little stronger than us first stage, maybe the second stage, and then we got a lot better in the third stage and felt like before we pitted that last time we were actually starting to catch him.”
Truex added that without pit strategy, he felt he could’ve had hell of a battle with Harvick.
“Without the strategy, it was going to be a hell of a battle,” said Truex. “But just to race with those guys is awesome. Rodney (Childers) and Kevin are amazing and they do a great job. Fun racing with them, and when you come out on top, you know you beat the best.”
Sunday’s win marked Truex’s third Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory on a road course, and feels that winning on those tracks is special.
“This is a huge win,” said Truex. “Road courses are something that everybody in the garage wants to win in a big way, and to be able to win here twice and to win at both the road courses has been pretty awesome for me, and it’s kind of a feather in the cap for a stock car driver to get those, and definitely proud of it.”