Sonoma gave the Cup series its first taste of road course racing of the season. Is it me or does three road races (one of those being on a "roval") not seem like enough over a 36-race schedule?
We didn't get a thriller, just the stage breaks for cautions and seven lead changes among five drivers, but there was some passing and more than a little contact deeper in the field. We also got a little reminder that this series belongs to Joe Gibbs Racing.
Martin Truex Jr. picked up his fourth win of the season and it was the 10th victory in 16 races this season for JGR. We've been through the Gibbs dominance in 2019, this is just the fourth time in Cup series history that a team has won 10 times this early in the season and just the second time since 1960 (joining Hendrick Motorsports in 2007). But let's take a deeper look into Truex's win.
They couldn't handle the Truex
Sunday was the 23rd career win for Truex, which ties him with Ricky Rudd and Joey Logano for 34th all-time. But if you had predicted this level of success for Truex just five years ago, it would've been hard to believe.
Truex had just three wins over 369 races from 2004-15. But during the last four seasons, he has won 20 times, just one behind now-teammate Kyle Busch for the most since the start of 2016.
If you limit it to just his last 112 starts, Truex has won 20 times, a win percentage of 17.9 with top-5 finishes in 47 percent of races. In the first 381 starts of his career, Truex won 0.8 percent of his starts with a top-5 percentage of 10.8 percent.
With his top-5 pace this year (seven in 16 races), Truex is on pace to have a total of 54 top-5 finishes over a three-year span. No driver has had more than 54 over a three-season span since Dale Jarrett and Jeff Gordon did so from 1998-2000.
Make mine a double
Not only did Truex Jr. win Sunday's race, but teammate Kyle Busch came home second, giving Joe Gibbs Racing its third 1-2 finish of the season. It stands to reason that JGR will get at least one more this season.
No team has had four 1-2 finishes in a single season since Gibbs and Hendrick both did so in 2013, but both did so just four times. If JGR can get five such finishes, it will be just the fifth instance of a team having at least five in a single season.
Hendrick did it in 2009 (seven times) and 2007 (five times). But before that, you have to go back to 1957 (DePaolo Engineering did so six times) and 1956 (Carl Kiekhaefer's team did so a record 10 times).
Di better finish
Let's give a shout-out to Sunday's fourth-place finisher, Matt DiBenedetto, who picked up the first top-5 finish of his 156-race Cup series career at Sonoma. Had a caution came out late, there was reason to believe he could've been a contender for the victory, which would've nicely shaken up the playoff picture.
Sunday was the 200th start all-time for Leavine Family Racing and the fourth matched the best finish the team has ever had. Michael McDowell and Kasey Kahne had fourth-place runs in 2017 and 2018 in the July Daytona race.
A lot of drivers have made Cup series starts, but now DiBenedetto becomes the 527th to have a top-5 finish. Out of that list, only 353 have done it multiple times.