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Defending Sonoma winner Truex wants repeat

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 18, 2014 at 4:14 pm •  Published: June 18, 2014
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Martin Truex was the toast of wine country when he left the road course of Sonoma a winner for the first time in six years.

Truex returns this weekend aiming for another win, but so much else has changed.

He'll bring a new team, different car and new sense of desperation as he tries to force his way into the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.

Truex was booted from the Chase last season in the aftermath of the Richmond scandal. In his first season driving the No. 78 Chevrolet for Furniture Row Racing, Truex hasn't come close to sniffing a checkered flag, buried at 25th in the points standings with only three top-10 finishes and no top fives.

He posted consecutive top-10s and Dover and Pocono before an early-race accident last weekend at Michigan knocked him out of the race.

"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."

Truex's previous only Sprint Cup Series win had been at Dover in 2007 and he was on a 218-race winless streak before winning at Sonoma for Michael Waltrip Racing. He led 51 of 110 laps, though it was far from the breakthrough victory he hoped it would become.

He lost his sponsor, and his job following Richmond — a trifecta of bad news that left him scrambling for a ride late in 2013. Truex didn't strike a deal with Furniture Row until November.

Furniture Row, a one-car operation based in Denver, far removed from NASCAR's North Carolina hub, had amazing success last season with Kurt Busch. Busch turned the organization into championship contenders, helping them become the first single-car team to earn a berth in the Chase.

Under the revamped Chase rules, Truex can do the same with a victory. He'd love for a win to jump-start a rough season that has been far from expected from one of last season's top drivers.

"When it comes to winning, this is one race that has been circled on the schedule," Truex said. "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."

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TOYOTA DEAL: Toyota signed a three-year extension to remain the co-title sponsor of the Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Raceway.

Toyota Motor Sales USA and the Northern California Toyota Dealers have served as co-title of the race since 2007. Toyota is also Sonoma's official vehicle. The 2014 season marks Toyota's 10th anniversary participating in NASCAR national series competition.

Toyota will also continue as title sponsor of the raceway's annual Toyota/Save Mart 350 preview show on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. The 30-minute special, which airs a minimum of six times during June, has been nominated for a sports Emmy award in past years.

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