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NASCAR Cup: Martin Truex Jr. dominates Martinsville

TALLADEGA, ALABAMA – OCTOBER 11: Martin Truex Jr, driver of the #19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, stands in the garage area during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 11, 2019 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Martin Truex dominated the First Data 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Sunday, leading all but 36 of the 500 laps that made up the race on his way to his series-leading seventh win of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, so far. With the win, he locked up his position in the championship four next month at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“I don’t think anyone expected that,” Truex said. “This race track in general, you don’t see that.  Hats off to my guys. Pit crew was stellar today, and we didn’t make many adjustments. We adjusted on early and it came to life, and that was a lot of fun. I don’t know; maybe now I’ve got this place figured out. Who knows? But just really proud of everybody, and after last year; we talked earlier, everybody wants to keep talking about last year, and I’m like, we’ve got work to do. I’m just proud of everybody for giving me a race car like that and being able to put it all together today when it counted.”

William Byron finished second, and Brad Keselowski was third. Two more playoff drivers rounded out the top-five — Denny Hamlin in fourth and Ryan Blaney fifth.

“I wouldn’t race him dirty, but I’m really hungry for my first win, so whatever it takes,” Byron said of his strategy had he been closer to Truex in the closing laps. “But he ran such a good race. I think he would have been able to drag the brake and do all he could to keep me behind him, anyway. So it was close.”

After the race, a discussion between Hamlin and playoff driver Joey Logano got heated enough that they were pulled apart by their respective teams.

“I got fenced down the straightaway and just went to talk about it. I was a little frustrated by the situation, and I went down to talk to him and didn’t really get the answers I was looking for,” Logano said. “I was frustrated about the situation, obviously. I really wanted to go over there and talk to him and get his side of the story on what happened, and he just said, ‘I ran you up in the wall, basically.’ He wasn’t as apologetic as I was looking for, and that probably escalated the situation too much. I shouldn’t have shoved him. For all the kids watching, that wasn’t the best thing to do, but I was frustrated; tempers are high. It’s the playoffs, so that’s what happens.”

Truex’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Hamlin, started on the pole and led the first 30 laps of the race. Truex ran second to Hamlin for all of those laps, taking the second position at the start of the race when second-place qualifier dropped to the back for the green flag because of an engine change Saturday.

Elliott raced into the top-10 on 77, but a broken axle on pit road during a lap-178 caution sent Elliott to the garage for awhile. He returned to the track on lap 237, 52 laps down, still needing to serve a pit-road penalty for having too many crew members over the pit road prior to heading to the garage.

Truex took his first lead from Hamlin on lap 31 by getting off pit road first during the first caution for debris on the frontstretch on lap 28. Hamlin lost multiple positions on pit road, but on lap 48, he got back up to second. Hamlin remained second to Truex until the first stage ended on lap 130.

Truex won both of the 130-lap stages that made up the first 260 laps. The other six laps the eventual race winner didn’t lead were led by Kyle Larson. Truex had lapped Larson on lap 125, but Larson got back on the lead lap during the caution at the end of the opening stage. He took the lead by staying out while the other lead-lap drivers pitted during a caution for a Clint Bowyer flat tire on lap 252. Truex retook the lead on lap 260, the final lap of stage two.

Sixth of the eight remaining playoff drivers finished the race inside the top-10. Kevin Harvick was seventh, Logano eighth and Larson was ninth.

“We got our car a lot better in the second half,” Harvick said. “We made some major adjustments when we got to the end of the second stage and made our car a lot better. We just didn’t quite get back up there.”

Elliott wound up 36th at the checkered flag. He was 38th and last in the running order when he returned from his axle replacement, but he gained two positions when Jimmie Johnson and Aric Almirola retired after their involvement in a lap-361 incident. That incident also included Kyle Busch, the remaining playoff driver. Busch was able to continue to finish in the 14th position.

“I’m not sure what started those two cars spinning (No. 10 of Almirola and No. 18 of Busch),” Johnson said. “While they were spinning, I made an early decision to go where I thought the road would be open but, by the time I got there, it was closed up. Wrong place, wrong time.”

Other top-10 finishers included Kurt Busch in sixth and Ryan Newman in 10th.

Below, is the complete finishing order of the First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway:

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Posted by on October 28, 2019. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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