SONOMA, Calif. — It had been more than six years since Martin Truex Jr.'s last win – a losing streak that had stretched an agonizing 218 races.
Although it sometimes felt like an eternity for Truex, it could have been much, much worse.
And he made a point to remind team co-owner Michael Waltrip of that following Sunday's win at Sonoma Raceway.
"What streak? What streak? Michael had 400-something," Truex ribbed.
"That ain't nothing," Waltrip replied.
"I had a good four, five years left in me," Truex added.
Indeed, Waltrip infamously went 463 races before winning his first, the 2001 Daytona 500. It was Waltrip's first race with new car owner Dale Earnhardt, who was killed in an accident on the last lap of the event.
Waltrip reflected on his own win Sunday while talking about the emotion he saw from the typically stoic Truex after the race.
"When I leaned in the car to congratulate Martin, he had just come onto pit road, and I leaned in and there were tears in his eyes, and you could feel the elation and the joy and the relief," Waltrip said. "It took me straight back to 2001 when I finally pulled into Victory Lane and was able to briefly celebrate what was the greatest racing day of my career. I saw all that same emotion and the same feeling in Martin.
"I'm glad I got to experience that, and it reminded me of a special day. You're looking at winners that are totally thankful that we're here."
The win was also the first for longtime Waltrip sponsor NAPA in 10 years.
"I don't think I can articulate how important it is for us to get NAPA to Victory Lane," Waltrip said. "You know, they've been with me since 2001 when I drove for Dale, and we haven't had them to Victory Lane since 2003. You talk about Martin's breaking a losing streak – NAPA broke one bigger than that."