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.”

Sage Karam, Tony Kanaan fastest in Monday’s practice for Indy 500

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In the second-to-last practice session of the week, Sage Karam paced the 33 drivers qualified for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 on Monday.

Karam had a field-best speed of 226.461 mph, followed by Tony Kanan (225.123 mph), Ryan Hunter-Reay (224.820), Charlie Kimball (224.582) and Alexander Rossi (224.507).

Sixth through 10th fastest were Will Power (224.445), Helio Castroneves (224.368), Marco Andretti (224.148) and rookie Zachary Claman Demelo (224.91) and Scott Dixon (223.966).

Power and Castroneves ran the most laps of all drivers at 120 and 118, respectively.

Two other Team Penske drivers struggled to get speed out of their cars. Defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden was 28th-fastest (221.982 mph) and Simon Pagenaud, who was the slowest (220.902 mph) of the 33 cars on-track.

Pole sitter Ed Carpenter was 14th-fastest with a best speed of 223.573 mph in a 100-lap effort.

Most drivers were in race trim or were testing things for Sunday’s Greatest Spectacle In Racing such as fuel mileage, chassis setup and more.

Rookie Matheus Leist missed most of the session with an apparent electrical problem that kept him to just 19 laps.

There was one incident of note during the 3 ½ hour session: IndyCar rookie Robert Wickens crashed coming out of Turn 2 during the first hour of practice.

Wickens appeared to skim the outside SAFER Barrier, went left and then violently turned hard back into the outside retaining wall.

MORE: Wickens wrecks during Indy 500 practice

The Honda-powered machine for the Canadian driver suffered heavy damage to the right side, particularly the right front tire and the right side of the front end.

There will be no further on-track activity for the Indy cars until Friday’s final practice to fine tune things for Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

We’ll have the full practice speed chart, as well as What Drivers Said, shortly. Please check back soon.

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