Martin Truex Jr. earned his second victory of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season in Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.
It didn’t take Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. long to earn his second victory of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season after ending a lengthy win drought at Dover Motor Speedway early last month.
Truex earned his fourth career victory at Sonoma Raceway in Sunday afternoon’s Toyota/Save Mart 350. Through 16 races this year, he is one of four drivers who have won multiple races and thus one of four drivers who have secured a playoff spot.
The 16 playoff spots go to the regular season champion and the 15 drivers who rank highest in win total. With 26 regular season races, there can be no more than 13 multi-race winners before the playoffs start.
While 10 drivers have won this season, the only other three drivers with multiple victories this year are Hendrick Motorsports teammates William Byron and Kyle Larson and Richard Childress Racing’s Kyle Busch. Byron and Busch each have three wins while Larson has two.
But while Truex’s dominant Sonoma Raceway victory is what officially allowed him to solidify a playoff spot, he was never at risk of missing the postseason.
If there are more than 16 playoff eligible drivers by the end of the regular season, whether that means a winless regular season champion and more than 15 different winners, or simply more than 16 different winners, the tiebreaker to determine which single-race winners are playoff drivers and which aren’t becomes points.
Among the seven drivers who entered Sunday’s race with exactly one victory, Truex ranked second, trailing only Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney. He sat in fourth place overall in the point standings, so his playoff spot was already 99.99% locked up.
So if it wasn’t Martin Truex Jr., who was the big winner of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway?
The biggest winners of the afternoon were the drivers who haven’t yet won this season and the drivers with one win who aren’t exactly in favorable positions in the point standings.
While the drivers who haven’t yet won would have ideally liked to change that, Truex winning was the next best thing, as it prevented another provisional playoff spot from being taken by somebody else. There are still just 10 playoff spots currently occupied, leaving six open for the taking with 10 races remaining on the regular season calendar.
Truex’s win eliminated one of the remaining 11 opportunities for a new winner to emerge, and that is also great news for the single-race winners who, in the event that there are more winners than playoff spots, may not be in the safest position.
Specifically, 23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick and JTG Daugherty Racing’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr. sit in 13th and 14th place in the point standings, respectively. The fact that Sunday’s race did not produce an 11th different winner made it more unlikely that there will end up being more winners than playoff spots, which strengthens their chances of getting in.
The playoff cut line remains between the 16th and 17th place drivers in the point standings, which is a stark contrast to last year, when it ended up between the third and fourth place drivers and Truex missed the postseason as the latter, simply because he didn’t win.
Now NASCAR is set for the lone Cup Series off weekend of the 2023 season. The 17th race on the regular season schedule is scheduled to take place on Sunday, June 25. The Ally 400 is set to be broadcast live on NBC from Nashville Superspeedway starting at 7:00 p.m. ET. Begin a free trial of FuboTV and don’t miss it!