NASCAR Cup drivers taking on road course in Sonoma

Allmendinger apologizes after blown engine at Sonoma			Image by Baker  LAT

Allmendinger apologizes after blown engine at Sonoma Image by Baker LAT

Driving conservatively with a massive lead over the final 10 laps, Truex crossed the finish line 10.513 seconds ahead of Harvick, who passed Elliott for the second spot on Lap 102.

The next race is Sunday July 1 at Chicagoland Speedway where Truex is a two-time defending champion. Kyle Busch, the 2015 champ, is in fifth behind 2012 Sonoma champion Clint Bowyer and 2011 victor Kurt Busch.

Harvick's crew chief, Rodney Childers, called in his driver for tires and fuel in anticipation of Truex's stop - but Pearn's driver actually stayed out for seven more laps.

The victory was Truex's third of the season, 18th of his career and his third career road course win. For all that Truex knew, he was going to pit.

Truex easily held off Harvick for his second win in three weeks and his third victory of the season in his Furniture Row Racing Toyota.

Pearn said the single stop in the final stage was the plan all along, even if Harvick's auto hadn't been snookered into the pits. Truex was told to pit.

Truex led 62 of the 110 laps, including the last 20 after he passed Kevin Harvick to retake the lead for good. "As far as he knew we were pitting". He finished over 10 seconds behind Truex after leading 35 laps. I tell him all the time like win lose or draw we do it together.

"Yeah, we're in California", Truex said. I'd like to say that we're smart enough to use codes, but we're not.

The pit-call decision gave Truex a huge lead on the 1.99-mile circuit and the only thing that could possibly have halted his momentum was a caution. That was unbelievable. I'm cool with whatever he wants to do. "I just do what he wants to do, awesome job by him today".

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Harvick wasn't angry about the pit strategy that probably decided the race.

Hamilton, who won the race for the second straight year, was never challenged after he reached the first corner a split second before Sebastian Vettel knocked into Hamilton's teammate, Valtteri Bottas. He only trails Kyle Busch (four) with the most wins among active drivers at Sonoma and Watkins Glen.

"I called him off at the last second", Pearn said. Harvick also had two loose lug nuts before that additional pit stop, which would have resulted in a one-race suspension for Childers if the team did not pit again. "I think it's fun to do something different". The call was one thing, but I think I was too hard on the auto the first couple of stages. "It never really came around there at the end of the race". We needed to work on the long run but believe me when it happened I was in a lot of disbelief and shock.

DINGER DINGED: A.J. Allmendinger won the first stage and had dreams of getting a rare victory - until he missed a shift and blew his engine on the 33rd lap.

"I just drive as fast as I can go".

Martin Truex Jr. has jumped to an early lead in the NASCAR Cup Series race in Sonoma.

It's hard to bet against Truex and Pearn if that race would come down to strategy over speed.

The best road course drivers in the NASCAR field were already making early moves. Today we made the right call and it all worked out.

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