NASCAR Sonoma 2013: Winners and losers

USA TODAY Sports

The winners and losers from NASCAR’s first road course of the season.

As it does every year, Sonoma Raceway proved to be an adventure, difficult for some while advantageous for others. Here is a look at the winners and losers from the Toyota/Save Mart 350.

Winners

Martin Truex Jr.

Six years in the making, Martin Truex Jr.'s win was a popular one in the garage. It also wouldn't surprise many if this didn't open the floodgates to more victories, as the No. 56 team has been on the cusp of breaking through for over a year now.

Jeff Gordon

Call Jeff Gordon old if you must, but the 41-year-old looked very much like the driver who won all those road course races in the '90s and early 2000s. His second-place finish was his best result of the year and helped ease the pain from the early wreck the week before at Michigan. The test will be whether the good vibes carry over to Kentucky, and whether Gordon, for the first time all season, can post top 10s in consecutive weeks.

Roush Fenway Racing

A Roush car may not have won for the second week in a row, but that was to be expected as it's been since 1997 that a Jack Roush-owned car drove into Victory Lane at Sonoma. But the team was competitive Sunday with Carl Edwards third and Greg Biffle placing eighth. More importantly, there was no infighting as both drivers played relatively nice with one another despite some tense moments early between the two.

Losers

Marcos Ambrose

The clear-cut favorite heading into Sunday, Ambrose lived up to his billing by leading the opening 18 laps. But for the second straight year he faded down the running order and was a non-factor late. He finished seventh. And when you take into account Richard Petty Motorsports burned a test at Sonoma in anticipation of this weekend, anything less than a win has to be viewed as a disappointment.

Road course ringers

There was an era when a team could bring in a hired gun at a road course and expect to leave with a finish somewhere in the top 10. That time, however, has passed as road course ringers no longer have much of an impact on the outcome. Case in point: Sunday, Boris Said in 18th was the highest-finishing ringer. Then there was the comical incident on pit road where Paulie Harraka -- brought in for his supposed road course prowess -- plowed into the back of Alex Kennedy before the race even began.

Kurt Busch

Coming back from a lap down to finish fourth is usually something to be commended, as Kurt Busch put on a clinic on how to work through traffic and navigate deftly around the 12-turn course. However, the only reason he was lapped was because he was caught speeding on pit road, not once but twice. And instead of contending for the win as he should have been, it was another race in a long line of them this season where the result didn't match the performance.

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