Race Report: Sonoma
The road course of Sonoma Raceway didn’t prove hospitable to Joe Gibbs Racing this afternoon with all three cars getting contact from other competitors to spoil any hopes of competing for a win. When the checkered flag waved Kyle Busch’s 25th-place finish led JGR, while Denny Hamlin was one spot behind in 26th and bad wreck left Matt Kenseth back in 42nd.
Busch qualified his No. 18 M&Ms Pretzel Toyota in the 20th position and battled tight handling conditions for much of the afternoon on the tricky road course. With various pit strategies at play throughout the afternoon Busch would ultimately fall a lap down but he got the lucky dog and was back on the lead lap for a restart on lap 75. From there the M&Ms Pretzel Camry patiently worked his way toward the front managing to climb all the way back into the top ten. Busch was battling for a top ten finish late when he was spun by the 41 car. He would recover to take the checkered flag but was left with a disappointing 25th-place finish.
Hamlin started his No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota in the 16th position and like his teammates he would battle a race car that was tight through this 10-turn road course. Hamlin would come down pit road and benefited from a timely caution that helped his track position. The FedEx Freight Camry would line up sixth for a restart on lap 75. Hamlin would manage to maintain a position in the top ten despite running on older tires, but contact from behind by the 31 car would send the No. 11 Camry spinning. Hamlin was able to keep the car on the track, but the loss of track position late in the race proved costly and he would go on to finish 26th.
Kenseth started his No. 20 Dollar General Toyota in 14th and was able to battle through tight handling conditions to race for a spot in the top ten through the first half of the race. He was running 10th when a caution came out on lap 72. Kenseth brought his Dollar General Camry down pit road and with various pit stops at play he restarted 20th on lap 75. He was hit in the right rear by the No. 88 car sending him hard into the tire barrier and resulting in major damage to the front of his car. The damage to the Dollar General Camry would be too great for repairs and Kenseth’s afternoon was over. He would be scored in 42nd.
Carl Edwards won the race followed by Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jamie McMurray, and Paul Menard rounded out the top five. There were six cautions for a total of 19 laps and 11 lead changes among nine different drivers.