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NASCAR Truck: Martin Truex Jr. dominates Bristol dirt race

BRISTOL, TENNESSEE – MARCH 29: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #51 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 29, 2021 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

After the Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway was delayed from a scheduled Saturday night start to Monday afternoon because of rain, NASCAR Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr. dominated the 150-lap race en route to the win. It was Truex’s first-career Truck Series win in his third series start, his first since 2006.

“It’s unbelievable, really. I guess they had to put dirt on Bristol to get me back into victory lane here,” Truex said. “It’s been a long time. That was a blast. I’m still really surprised. I wanted to run this race so I could get more experience for the Cup car, and then, we got out there in practice and it felt really good and I was having a lot of fun, so I just kept trying to work with the guys and tell them what I needed, and just thanks to Auto Owners, Noble Aerospace, Toyota, TRD, everybody at KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) for letting me drive this thing and putting this deal together. That was a blast. I kept thinking, ‘What’s going to happen next? Am I going to get a flat tire or something stupid?’ This 51 is pretty much used to finishing in victory lane, so a lot of pressure there, so I’m glad we could get it done.”

With the win, Truex became the 16th different driver to win a race for Kyle Busch Motorsports. The win also was the second-straight for KBM’s No. 51 team, as owner Kyle Busch drove the truck to victory lane March 20 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Ben Rhodes finished second. Raphael Lessard, Todd Gilliland and Chase Briscoe rounded out the top-five.

“We were running him (Truex) back down those last few laps, but, yeah, just the worst restart of my life,” Rhodes said of missing a gear and losing ground to Truex on the final restart of the race. “Early in the race, I had an issue of getting it into fourth gear and missed a shift early on and really didn’t think anything of it. I had clean shifts afterwards and, then, just missed it. Bummer for my guys. That is as close as I’ve been at Bristol to winning here and it was on the dirt, so they gave me a great Bombardier Tundra. I’m just a little angry at myself. I think I could have brought them home a trophy, but big picture, I know the 51 (Truex) is kind of doing their thing, but for the overall championship for us, this is a huge race. I know that a few of our competitors had a bad day. At the end of the day, still really solid. We came here and did exactly what we said we wanted to do. We hit all of our goals, just sucks to be the first loser.”

Truex’s race-high 105 laps led in the 150-lap race included stage wins at laps 40 and 90. He won the opening 40-lap stage after taking the lead on a restart on the final lap of the stage. Creed dominated the first stage after taking the lead from Austin Hill on lap two. Meanwhile, Truex took second from Stewart Friesen on lap 35 after starting the race in the 15th position.

Like Creed in the opening stage, Truex dominated stage two. Ben Rhodes got out in front of him on a lap-76 restart, but on lap 79, Truex retook the lead.

Three drivers, led by Grant Enfinger, stayed out during the caution after the second stage, but on lap 94, Truex retook the lead and ran up front for the remaining laps.

John Hunter Nemechek started on the pole. After losing the lead on the opening lap, he fell back to fifth by the end of the first stage. On lap 49, he spun as a result of contact with Matt Crafton. Derek Kraus and Timothy Peters were collected, and the race was red-flagged. Nemechek retired from the race as a result of the incident.

“I just flat got run over by the 88 (Crafton),” Nemechek said.

The race was red-flagged two additional times. The second red flag came during a lap-99 caution when Mike Marlar slowed on the track and Kyle Larson hit him. The first two red flags were for fluid on the track. The red flag was waved for a third time when Andrew Gordon wrecked, landing on a barrier of barrels.

Enfinger finished sixth, ZSmith was seventh, Parker Kligerman eighth, Hill ninth, and Austin Wayne Self was 10th.

Below, is the complete finishing order of the Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt:

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Posted by on March 29, 2021. Filed under Breaking News,Camping World Truck Series,Featured,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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