Martin Truex Jr. went back-to-back with wins at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday night and, in the process, became the first repeat winner of the NASCAR Cup Series season.
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Truex came on strong late in the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500, challenging Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin inside the final 25 laps. After repeatedly getting to the left rear of Hamlin’s Toyota but never getting side-by-side for the lead, Truex finally made the pass for the win on lap 485 and then drove away. Truex led 20 laps, including the final 16.
“It was pretty incredible there at the end,” Truex said. “The Bass Pro Toyota – James (Small, crew chief) and the guys really hung with me all day. We never could get quite where we wanted it. It started getting dark, and she came to life.
“I can’t believe we won here again after not having the dominant car here today, for sure. That was a lot of fun there, racing at the end with Denny (Hamlin). We raced clean, and we were able to come out on top.”
A masterful pass by @MartinTruex_Jr gets him the top spot with 15 to go at @MartinsvilleSwy! pic.twitter.com/AHSlT2jCQQ
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) April 11, 2021
Chase Elliott took the second spot from Hamlin in the final few laps. Elliott finished second for his third top-five finish of the season.
Hamlin dominated the event. He led a race-high 276 of 500 laps and finished third, admitting he did not have the best car on the long run. Following the final round of pit stops in which Truex beat Hamlin off pit road, the race restarted for the last time on lap 458. Hamlin took the lead from Truex on lap 459, but could never drive away from him or Elliott in the final stint.
William Byron finished fourth, and Kyle Larson finished fifth. Joey Logano finished sixth, Christopher Bell finished seventh, Tyler Reddick was eighth, Kevin Harvick ninth, and Kyle Busch 10th. Busch came back from a spin on lap 322 and a multi-car crash on lap 387.
Ryan Blaney finished 11th after being sent to the rear on the final restart after running over equipment on his pit stop. Blaney led 157 laps and won both stages.
Blaney will start from the rear of the field. #NASCAR https://t.co/yPFXvZvZvQ
— Team Penske (@Team_Penske) April 11, 2021
In the end, it was Truex who again ruled the Virginia paperclip. The win is his third in the last four Martinsville races, and in that stretch, he has led over 700 laps.
Martinsville is the 29th victory of Truex’s career.
“This is unbelievable,” said Truex of Martinsville. “This place has become a playground for us, I guess. We didn’t have the best car all day, but we just kept working on it and never quit on it. Proud of James and all the guys. This Bass Pro/Tracker Toyota Camry came on at the end, and that’s when it counts. There’s something about when the lights come on here, we’re really good, so that was cool.”