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The Race JGR Would Like to Forget

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SONOMA, Calif. — Sometimes it’s not your day.

For Joe Gibbs Racing, Sunday’s (June 9) NASCAR Cup Series event at Sonoma Raceway was probably one the team would like to burn the tape and never speak of again.

Chistopher Bell finished ninth for his third top-10 finish in a row, but that was about the only good thing that happened for JGR, as the rest of the race was an unmitigated disaster.

It took not even two laps for JGR’s trip to Wine Country to go south, as Denny Hamlin had a surprising engine failure that took him out of the race before it even began.

“Random blow up,” Hamlin said. “I haven’t had one in some time, but not ideal for sure.

“I didn’t notice anything. Just trying to get up to speed, but that was out of the blue for sure down the straightaway.”

In the first restart of the day, Martin Truex Jr. got spun from 20th place and dropped all the way back to 37th.

Meanwhile, Ty Gibbs was having the best performance of the JGR quartet, as he started 10th and was running there in first dozen laps. But on lap 16, Gibbs hit the new wall in turn 11 while rounding the hairpin, and he crashed in turn 12 after the contact damaged the right front of the No. 54.

“I hit the inside wall, was finding a grip down there and picking up time and got too close and clipped the wall and hurt the right front,” Gibbs said. “I think we needed to make some adjustments to be a little bit tighter in the sweeping sections, but I just made a mistake and took us out of this day.”

Hamlin and Gibbs were the first two cautions in a race that had eight — one short of the all-time record of nine at Sonoma, which occurred in 1990.

The sixth caution of the day came out on lap 35, as Josh Berry locked up the brakes entering turn 11 and became a pinball in a crash that collected nearly a dozen cars. Bell got spun out in the mess, while Truex also received slight damage to the front of his car.

After a chaotic first half, the second proved to be nice and calm, as the race ended with a caution-free final stage and a 51-lap green-flag run to the finish.

The No. 19 team had overcome the earlier spin and damage through pit strategy, and Truex restarted the final stage in third. When the dust settled, it was Chris Buescher and Truex battling for the lead with 10 laps to go,…

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