After Sonoma win, Truex looks to keep up pace in Kentucky

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After breaking a 218-race winless streak last weekend at Sonoma Raceway, Martin Truex Jr. had what he called “a great week” looking through messages of congratulations and enjoying the victory with team members at the Michael Waltrip Racing shop.

But tonight, the New Jersey native is getting back to business at Kentucky Speedway, hopeful that the positive momentum can continue for him.

“The team has been doing a great job lately,” Truex said on Friday at Kentucky. “Really, we’ve had fast cars all year long and we’ve talked about that a lot. Mile-and-a-halves [tracks] have been good for us, so we’re looking forward to having a great weekend here at Kentucky.

“This has not been one of our best race tracks as far as a mile-and-a-half track goes, but we did have a good run here last year and hoping to build on that and see what we can do this weekend.”

Truex has been a steady performer on 1.5-mile ovals throughout the first half of the season. He’s finished eighth at Las Vegas, second at Texas (led 142 laps), fourth at Kansas (led 46 laps), and ninth at Charlotte. Last year in Kentucky, he qualified toward the front and stayed there, winding up eighth at the checkered flag.

As for why his team has been solid on the intermediate ovals, Truex credits his own knowledge of getting around these types of tracks, as well as the knowledge of his crew chief, Chad Johnston.

“I think Chad really understands what it takes to make cars run fast on those race tracks,” said Truex, who starts 19th in tonight’s Quaker State 400.

“I really enjoy them and I understand what it takes to run fast on them as well. I think at the end of the day, you’re only as good as the car you’re sitting in and Chad has done a really, really good job at giving me the stuff I need to run fast at those places.”

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).