Is it better to be lucky, or good? Is it a better strategy to out-run, or out-smart, the competition? Or is it a perfect combination when one out-smarts the competition by being just that good?
That is what Sunday’s events could be described as, because the team that bested it all did so by being fast on the track, but being smart on the radio. It’s seen in football, or baseball, quite often. A team calls a bluff to offset the opposition, making them think one play is happening, when in reality it’s something completely different. It worked to perfection for Nick Foles in the Super Bowl, but wasn’t able to be duplicated by Tom Brady later on.
At Sonoma, the man playing the role of Foles was Martin Truex Jr, with the play call coming from crew chief Cole Pearn.
Final stage, teams needed to pit, but the call to do so just once, or twice, was the name of the game, and playing strategy would be a challenge. Road courses can always have a moment or two that can tighten the field up, but that seemed to not be happening on this afternoon. It came down to making the right call, and Pearn had it.
By calling Truex to pit, other teams would need to come in to keep up, or stay within range. Kevin Harvick’s crew heard this, and planned the same thing. The call came in, and the teams were committed…or were they? Pearn suddenly told Truex to stay out, going with a one-stop strategy instead of two, and with Harvick already committed, Pearn pulled a bluff on the field.
When Truex pitted, it was the last time he needed to, and by doing so he ran down the field, took the lead with 20 laps remaining, and cruised his way to victory, thanks to a brilliant play call that out-smarted the field.
That brilliant call gave the current League leader another win on the season, padding his lead and showing that even though he may not have the most wins, he does have the right strategy. Here’s the complete standings after the Toyota/Save Mart 350:
Sal Sigala Jr. – 605 – Martin Truex Jr. WON (4) 22
Ashley Hobbs – 575 – Clint Bowyer finished 3rd (5) 26
Penny Whitecotton – 572 – Kevin Harvick finished 2nd (5) 25
Trisha Rodisch – 569 – Clint Bowyer finished 3rd (4) 22
Rob Tiongson – 569 – Clint Bowyer finished 3rd (2) 10
Misan Akuya – 522 – Jamie McMurray finished 37th (4) 22
Dustin Parks – 522 – Kyle Larson finished 14th (0) 2
Rob Blount – 504 – Kyle Busch finished 5th (2) 13
Billy Fellin – 491 – Clint Bowyer finished 3rd (3) 19
Ashley Hull – 343 – NO PICK SENT (2) 12
Next Race: Normally, the upcoming weekend would mean a bit of a break, and it leads into the stretch run of the season. However, the second off-weekend has already happened, and that means it’s back to the race track. But, it’s back to a track that for a long time has hosted the opening race of the playoffs. With the new alignment this year, a trip to the Windy City happens during the summer instead of the fall.
Up next is a trip to the Chicagoland Speedway, a place that is known for championships thanks to guys like Walter Payton, Michael Jordan, and finally had a chance to enjoy winning a World Series thanks to the Cubs.
You participants are needing to ensure your picks are locked in by Thursday, June 28, at 10 p.m. ET for the Overton’s 400.