Motorsport News

Questions Answered After Kyle Larson Toasts the Field in Wine Country

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Who… should you be talking about after the race?

On a day where Sonoma Raceway had a few surprises up her sleeve, the Toyota/Save Mart 350 came down to pit strategy, and it was the No. 5 team of Kyle Larson that pulled off the best one. Larson held out a little longer than either Chris Buescher or Martin Truex Jr., leaving him with ground to make up but with fresher tires and plenty of fuel to do it.

As Truex stalked Buescher, Larson was turning the fastest laps. Had Truex been able to dispatch Buescher with more laps remaining, Larson might not have passed him as easily as he did, but with the Nos. 17 and 19 battling up front, Larson made quick work of both.

Buescher used up his car trying to hold off Truex and faded to third behind Larson and Michael McDowell as Truex ran out of fuel and coasted to a stop just a few yards short of the finish, eventually limping it across in 27th.

It’s Larson’s third win of 2024 and the 26th of his career. He now has 22 playoff points, best among all drivers this year, and takes over the point lead after Denny Hamlin finished 38th.

“I didn’t know what we were doing,” Larson said afterward of his team’s strategy.

Instead, he concentrated on completing his laps and running down the leaders, leaving the rest to his team. Maybe they should consider not telling him the strategy every week.

And don’t forget Ross Chastain. Chastain started ninth and, while he wasn’t in the conversation for the win, he had a consistent day and a top-five finish to show for it, scoring a few stage points with his seventh-place finish in the first segment. Despite a tangle with Kyle Busch on the final lap, Chastain scored his first top five since Las Vegas.

What… is the big question leaving this race in the rearview?

Truex was contemplating retirement a year ago before he won at Dover Motor Speedway, Sonoma and New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The hot streak convinced him to return to the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 for another year, but that only put off the decision again.

Now, Truex is grappling with his future again, aware that Gibbs needs an answer soon enough to find a suitable replacement should he step down. But will he stay or will he go?

Truex doesn’t have a win, but he’s not having a terrible season. Currently fifth in points, he’s had some solid races. But the last four races have been dismal, with a best finish in that span of 12th and three of 25th or worse….

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