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Sonoma provided some elation, some frustration and even a little WTH?

By admin | June 23, 2013

 Martin Truex, Jr. left Sonoma feeling elated…but others did not.

By Richard Allen

At one time, I used to dislike road course racing in NASCAR. I was an oval track snob and thought those types of tracks had no place in a stock car series. Then, the words ‘aero-tight’ and ‘cookie cutter’ became part of the racing vernacular and my mind was changed regarding the courses that require both left and right turns.

Typically, road courses provide some elation along with some frustration, and Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at the Sonoma Raceway was no different. But along with those usual emotions, there was even a little ‘WTH’ moment.


The obvious elation was experienced by Martin Truex, Jr. This is a driver who has come so close on multiple occasions over the past couple of seasons only to have victory slip away for one reason or another. The happiness showed on his face and was evident in his voice during the long awaited victory lane interview.

“I can’t even put it into words,” Truex Jr. said of the emotion he felt after the race. “Chad (Johnston) has come so far as a crew chief, he’s just amazing. We’ve had cars that were really fast all year long, we’ve just had some tough luck. We’ve been close so many times…200 and some races without a win. It feels amazing to finally get one.

“The car was just awesome, what can I say. Today was just our day. We’ve had a lot of days that weren’t our days. We’re going to get a bunch of them now, I can tell you that.”

This was the second Sprint Cup win of Truex’s career, but the first came all the way back in 2007 at the Dover International Speedway when he drove for Dale Earnhardt, Inc.


Two drivers who left the California wine country feeling plenty of frustration were Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart. On lap 69, their two cars came together, resulting in a spin by Hamlin.

“OK, who am I wrecking?” Hamlin asked after the incident. “That was the 14,” his spotter replied. “OK, 10-4,” was Hamlin’s response.

Stewart countered by telling his team that Hamlin had left him with nowhere to go and the accident had been just that…an accident.

Hamlin went on to finish 23rd while Stewart ended up 28th after being involved in a second incident with Jeff Burton.

Another driver who had to have been frustrated in Sonoma was Bobby Labonte. This driver didn’t even really get a chance to race. Mechanical troubles forced his team to take their car to the garage area just after the firing of engines. After a scramble to make repairs, the car was sent onto the track only to suffer a blown engine moments later.

Labonte was left to sit alone in the infield portion of the track until a caution came out later allowing safety crew members to come to his aid.

Brothers Kurt and Kyle Busch were both aggravated during their day in Sonoma. While pitting from the lead early in the race, Kurt was hit with a speeding violation, which required a drive-through penalty. In the process of serving the drive-through punishment, the elder brother was busted again and had to come to pit road another time.

Kurt eventually recovered to post a solid 4th place finish.

Things did not turn out so well for Kyle Busch. After a day in which he too was penalized for speeding on pit road and just never seemed to get into a good rhythm on the track, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver found himself bouncing off a tire barrier after being bumped by Carl Edwards on lap 83. Eventually, the younger Busch finished 35th.

And perhaps the most frustrated group of the day were those who watched the TNT television broadcast of the race. Seemingly, on every restart there would be cars running two and three wide throughout the pack while the network’s cameras focused on the top-5 drivers running single-file. And more, it seems like TNT shows more commercials than either Fox or ESPN. That may or may not be true but it seems that way.

Watching their broadcasts is difficult.

What The Heck?:

And finally, there was a wreck on pit road as cars rolled off for their pace laps before the race even started. How does that happen?

David Reutimann stopped briefly to make an adjustment, but rookies Alex Kennedy and Paulie Harraka were unable to avoid him and each other and received significant damage to their cars.


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15 Responses to “Sonoma provided some elation, some frustration and even a little WTH?”

  1. Jerseygirl24 Says:
    June 23rd, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    Congrats to Martin Truex on the win AND to Jeff Gordon for a great comeback after getting stuck in the back because of the caution.

    I’ve pretty much stopped watching races on TV. It’s simply not worth the effort. A race broadcast is supposed to add to my enjoyment, not cause me to be angry. Fox, TNT and ESPN are all failures in their job IMO, but NASCAR will renew their contracts anyway because it’s all about putting money into the pockets of ISC and the France family, not whether or not the broadcasts are decent.

    I follow the races by using my computer with raceview and twitter and if there’s something worth seeing, I can change the channel to see it on replay, since most likely I wouldn’t have seen it live anyway.

    I like your WTH - most all of us were asking that question as well. I feel badly for Bobby Labonte. This is no way for a champion to end his career.

  2. RacingFan Says:
    June 24th, 2013 at 12:41 am

    I am not sure if the racing at the road tracks has gotten better. What has probably happened is that the racing at the ovals has gotten worse, so it just seems better in comparison.

  3. Sully Says:
    June 24th, 2013 at 12:50 am

    I have to say about Martin Truex win..ABOUT TIME! The second longest winless streak in NASCAR HISTORY and never a word about it. Other poor souls who ventured not even NEAR that mark were raked over the coals by fans and biased “reporters”. I am laughing now because some folks are saying “Martin had bad luck…wow 6 years of bad luck…interesting. Others with WAY LESS of a horrible record…”stink”, according to the KoolAid drinkers. You can’t make this insanity up!

  4. Tony Geinzer Says:
    June 24th, 2013 at 1:53 am

    I feel Bobby LaBonte should be better than just having to wait on trying to race or not. That would skew things on a week to week basis and having Allemindinger would be a BIG Mistake for JTG Daugherty.

  5. Steve Brecht Says:
    June 24th, 2013 at 5:01 am

    Ummm what about Stewart punting Burton for no reason with 18 to go while running in the top ten??????

  6. Bill B Says:
    June 24th, 2013 at 7:04 am

    I think Labonte should have retired a year or two ago. He’s been stroking it for the last couple of seasons with 2nd tier teams. Is he just doing it for the money? You’d think he’d be OK with $$$ after all those years in the series.

    Actually, I thought TNT did a pretty good job yesterday. You are correct though. On those restarts the attention should be on the cars from 10th to 25th once the leaders get through turn one. As for the commercials, seemed about the usual amount to me.

  7. Jim Says:
    June 24th, 2013 at 8:24 am

    Glad to read this AM that Truex won. He’s been so close so many times when the throne sniffers would through a fake yellow to try and create something. I think they call it a manipulated outcome. Can’t believe they didn’t do the same thing again.

  8. midasmicah Says:
    June 24th, 2013 at 8:34 am

    As much as I love road course racing, I had trouble (again) watching this race because of the sheer amount of commercials Add that to TNT’s penchant for showing everything, but the racing on the track and it becomes almost unwatchable. I don’t need to see Bower’s instrument panel going down the track or all the camera shots from inside the vehicles. I love racing, but nas$car seems to still be trying it’s best to chase fans away. CONGRADULATIONS TO MARTIN TRUEX JR FOR HIS WIN.

  9. GinaV24 Says:
    June 24th, 2013 at 8:59 am

    JTG Daugherty hasn’t put a decent car on the track on a regular basis since they started, yet, when ESPN takes over Brad (bigmouth) Daugherty will be sitting there in the booth taking potshots at other teams for their lack of ability or “stick a fork in them” or whatever other trite phrase he can come up with. I feel badly for LaBonte having to try and race under those conditions and it will be even worse if he doesn’t know if he’s in the car or not.

    I realize he’s getting paid to do this job, but I wonder if it is really worth it.

  10. Lydia Says:
    June 24th, 2013 at 9:29 am

    @tony…while I agree LaBonte is being disrespected as a past champion and really good driver..I don’t understand your comment on the Dinger being a really bad choice to run a few races and shake down the 47??
    I enjoyed the race .. I enjoy listening to Petty and his comments…BUT…I still don’t get why the broadcasters do the majority of reporting on the lead 5 or so cars. I would think by now the idea is out there that every driver on the track has fans no matter where that driver is running during a race. I know for myself…it’s frustrating not getting updates here and there on my drivers..I like to know what they’re struggling with. Lets face it..once a car takes the lead…watching that car pull away by 10+ car lengths is very boring… Lap after lap after lap after lap!

  11. JimB Says:
    June 24th, 2013 at 10:53 am

    I still don’t know why Matt Kenseth went from 3rd to 19th in the last 7 laps of the race. TNT did a terrible job, as usual, on this race. I kept going back and forth to my computer trying to keep up with what was going on. Sometimes I would hear the race broadcast come back on and by the time I could make it back in front of the TV they would break for another 5 or 6 commercials. I can’t believe the France family is so stupid that they don’t see why race fans aren’t showing up at the track anymore. Nobody gets inspired to pay $100 bucks after an all day drive to the track to watch a race that is nothing but a prelude to this ridiculous Chase format. To watch at home they have to search for the channel and time every damned race is on the TV, and when they do find the race they can’t even figure out who is running the best because the announcers never even pay attention to anything except getting to the next in an endless stream of commercial breaks. And, WTH was this crap with video replays of the bad day the Hendrick Motorsports drivers had last week in Michigan when there was only 9 laps left in this week’s race at Sonoma!? The race may have been good, but I never got to see it. Bad day for NASCAR, yet again. TNT sucks!

  12. Offkilter Says:
    June 24th, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    The 4 HMS cars were in top 12 and the JGR cars were crap. The 18 getting jacked up a couple times and once by overdriving was icing on the cake. Seeing the 18 car pointed the wrong way made the commercials and over-production of top 3 positions worth while.

  13. Annie Says:
    June 24th, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    I have to give my WTH moment to old Jaws, that man can’t give up his 15 minutes. He grabbed the microphone from that lady BEFORE the “gentlemen start your engines” bit was even finished then had to torture us with that Boogity bologna! UGH!

  14. Sue Rarick Says:
    June 25th, 2013 at 6:15 am

    Truex was a spoiled little brat and used to like to bully kids about his money (till someone did a serious whoop butt on him). With any luck it will be another 218 races till he wins.

    Sorry but his just another workin guy act is a bit grating when you know how much money the Truex family has.

  15. Russ Says:
    June 25th, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    Sue, you’re exactly right. But he’s far from the only one playing that game. Easier to name the ones that aren’t than those that are.