Heading to Sonoma, Calif. for the first road course event of the season is a welcome venue for both Martin Truex Jr. and the single-car Furniture Row Racing team.
Truex is the defending champion of the Sprint Cup Series event, a victory he scored last year as a driver with the Michael Waltrip Racing team.
While Truex was impressive on the 11-turn, 1.99-mile road circuit, the Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet was also impressive, finishing fourth in Sonoma despite being cited for two pit-road speeding penalties.
“I guess when you combine these factors plus a successful recent test session at VIR (Virginia International Raceway), you can’t help feeling optimistic,” said Truex Jr., who led 51 out of the 110 laps in last year’s win.
It’s easy to understand why Truex and the Denver-based team have a good feeling about Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350.
“When it comes to winning, this is one race that has been circled on the schedule,” noted Truex. “However, there are so many excellent road course drivers right now and I am sure this race has also been circled on their calendars as well. That’s why Sonoma is a great race that takes place at one of the most beautiful settings on our schedule."
Truex said he will enjoy the return trip to Northern California with a new label.
"Returning to Sonoma this year will be pretty special for me,” stated Truex. “Winning on the Sonoma road course race last year was a major highlight of my career. It will be nice to go to an event with the label as the defending champion.”
Truex, who is in his first season driving the No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, feels you need a flawless race at Sonoma if you want to take home the winning hardware.
“Before you conquer the 11-turn, technical circuit you must have all of your ducks in order,” explained Truex. “It’s not an easy course by any means, but if the car’s setup is right then you will have a shot at a victory. You have to be able to master all the turns there. The toughest turn for me was always Turn 11, but I managed to get a better feel for that turn the past couple of years. That is one hairpin turn where your day could end very quickly.”
Truex, who has had a roller coaster year thus far, knows all too well about ending a race quickly. In Michigan on Sunday he was seeking his third straight top-10, but found himself in the wrong place on Lap 8 of 200 when he was collected in a multicar accident that put him out of contention.
“We just need to start a new streak in Sonoma,” said Truex. “We’ve had way too much bad luck so far, but we will keep plugging away and hope what goes around comes around.”