Truex Wins at Martinsville, Books His Ticket to Homestead

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Martinsville Speedway, Martinsville, VA— October 27, 2019

In last year’s playoff race at Martinsville Speedway, Joey Logano(22) put a bumper to Martin Truex Jr.(19) on the last corner of the final lap. The contact was enough to allow Logano to slip past Truex and take the win. Advancing to the Championship Four.

As a result, Logano went on to win the NASCAR Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Will the same type of drama occur today? Maybe. Logano sits on the playoff bubble, two points ahead of fifth-place Kevin Harvick(4).

Denny Hamlin(11) sits on the pole for today’s First Data 500. Chase Elliott(9) qualified 2nd but will start from the rear of the field due to an engine change after blowing up in practice.

Elliott blows up during practice. Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images

Aric Almirola(10) will move up to the front row to pace the field. Hamlin is 3rd in the standings at +9, Elliott sits below the cut-line 6 points out.

Stages today are 130/130/240 and every lap will test the patience and temperament of drivers as contact is a part of racing at Martinsville.

Stage 1

Hamlin easily led the first 30 laps until the caution flag came out for debris on the race track. Pit stops shuffled the front of the pack as Truex exited with the lead. Followed by Ryan Blaney(12), Daniel Suarez(41), Clint Bowyer(14), and Hamlin.

Denny Hamlin, Photo Credit: Tyler Strong / NASCAR Digital Media

As Truex maintained the lead, Hamlin moved back up to 2nd and Elliott worked his way from the back of the pack to the top 10. With six laps to go, Truex lapped Kyle Larson(42) to leave just 16 cars on the lead lap.

Stage 1 Results

Car Driver Stage Points
19 Martin Truex Jr. 10
11 Denny Hamlin 9
12 Ryan Blaney* 8
14 Clint Bowyer* 7
22 Joey Logano* 6
24 William Byron 5
10 Aric Almirola* 4
9 Chase Elliott 3
18 Kyle Busch 2
41 Daniel Suarez* 1

* Ford Mustang Drivers

Harvick and Larson were the only two playoff drivers to not capture bonus points during Stage 1. Larson returned to the lead lap as the lucky dog during the caution period.

Stage 2

Truex exited the pits first and let into the restart for Stage 2. This time it was Clint Bower(14) chasing his rear bumper around the track. Fifty laps into Stage 2, Ty Dillon(13) spun with the help of Daniel Hemric(8) giving the leaders an opportunity to pit for fresh tires.

Martin Truex Jr. Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images

Jimmie Johnson(48) hit a tire on pit road and also ran into the right rear of Brad Keselowski(2), necessitating a 2nd stop by Johnson to repair the damage. Also during the stop, Elliott had trouble leaving his pits. A damaged rear axle proved to be the issue as the #9 car remained on pit road as the race restarted. Elliott ultimately took his car to the garage as the crew continued to try and repair the problem.

Elliott’s crew works to repair his car. Photo Credit: Tyler Strong / NASCAR Digital Media

Truex again led with Bowyer in 2nd, Blaney 3rd, William Byron(24) in 4th and Logano moving up to 5th.

Elliott returned to the race 53 laps down in last place. Every point is valuable and if another car has trouble Elliott may make up some ground. Nine laps from the end of the stage, Bowyer cut a tire, it came apart and scattered debris across the track bringing out the caution. Larson stayed on the track as the remainder of the leaders headed for pit road.

Truex got a nose in front of Larson coming to the start-finish line and took the stage win. Larson picked up 9 bonus points by staying out and gaining track position.

Stage 2 Results

Car Driver Stage Points
19 Martin Treux Jr. 10
42 Kyle Larson 9
12 Ryan Blaney* 8
22 Joey Logano* 7
10 Aric Almirola* 6
24 William Byron 5
18 Kyle Busch 4
11 Denny Hamlin 3
20 Erik Jones 2
2 Brad Keselowski* 1

* Ford Mustang Drivers

The Final Stage

Truex continued to add to his laps led total at the start of the Final Stage. Logano moved into 2nd but sits almost three seconds behind the leader. The caution came out again on Lap 345 as Austin Dillon(3) shredded a tire. Everyone came to pit road, with 155 laps it is possible someone may try to stretch gas mileage to the end.

Truex sped off into Turn 1 as the race restarted, Byron moved past Blaney into second, with Logano in 4th. Hamlin and teammate Kyle Busch traded bumper taps as Hamlin pushed his way into the 5th position.

On Lap 361, the first accident of the day occurred as Kyle Busch got tangled with Aric Almirola on the front stretch. Ryan Preece(47), Johnson, and Matt DiBenedetto(95) also picked up some damage in the incident.

Martinsville wreck, Photo Credit: Getty Images

Almirola’s and Johnson’s cars were eliminated from the race. Elliott will pick up those two positions if he remains out of trouble over the next 30-40 laps. Out of the care center, Almirola expressed his dissatisfaction with Kyle Busch and promised to make life difficult for him over the remaining races this season.

Cautions Breed Cautions

As cars battled for position on the restart, Alex Bowman(88), Bubba Wallace(43), and Suarez were wrecking under the flag stand to bring out another caution. A lot of cars have damage from on-track incidents, Truex’s car is spotless and still out front.

Bowman and Suarez get together, Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk / Getty Images

With 52 laps to go, Bowyer cut down a left rear tire and debris brought out the caution again. Everyone had a chance to pit for fresh tires and plenty of gas to reach the end of the race. It will also ramp up the intensity. Truex easily scampered away from the pack. Byron and Blaney banged for 2nd place, Hamlin drove Logano into the wall fighting for 4th.

Logano’s brush with the wall flattened a tire and he spun. Another yellow flag waved. Shortly after the restart, Hemric and Michael McDowell got together and another caution slowed the field.

The final yellow flag set up a short sprint to the finish. Truex was being chased by Byron. Remembering what happened in last year’s race, Truex never allowed the #24 car to get to his bumper. Taking the win after leading 464 of the 500 laps.

Logano and Hamlin came together for a short conversation about what happened late in the race. It looked civil until Joey gave Denny a little shove at the end and the fight was on. Order was quickly restored, however, the two continued to jaw at each other as the emotions of the day boiled over.

Playoff Implications

Truex becomes the first driver to qualify for the Championship 4 and clearly looks to be the early favorite. Hamlin improved his position moving 24 points above the cut line. Logano also added to his bubble lead going up by 14.

Harvick lost ground, Blaney moved from eighth to sixth and Elliott was forced into a must-win position if he expects to contend at Homestead.

Position Car Driver Behind
1 19 Martin Truex Jr In / Win
2 11 Denny Hamlin +24
3 18 Kyle Busch +17
4 22 Joey Logano* +14
Championship Cut Line
5 4 Kevin Harvick* -14
6 12 Ryan Blaney* -15
7 42 Kyle Larson -24
8 9 Chase Elliott -44

*Ford Mustang Drivers

Next week, Texas Motor Speedway hosts the 2nd race of the Round of Eight. Can things get any more insane? Can’t wait to find out.

 

 

Results of the First Data 500 from Martinsville Speedway

Position Car Driver
1 19 Martin Truex Jr.
2 24 William Byron
3 2 Brad Keselowski
4 11 Denny Hamlin
5 12 Ryan Blaney
6 1 Kurt Busch
7 4 Kevin Harvick
8 22 Joey Logano
9 42 Kyle Larson
10 6 Ryan Newman
11 38 David Ragan
12 37 Chris Buescher
13 43 Bubba Wallace
14 18 Kyle Busch
15 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
16 95 Matt DiBenedetto
17 8 Daniel Hemric
18 32 Corey LaJoie
19 47 Ryan Preece
20 20 Erik Jones
21 21 Paul Menard
22 3 Austin Dillon
23 34 Michael McDowell
24 13 Ty Dillon
25 36 Matt Crafton
26 0 Landon Cassill
27 51 B.J. McLeod
28 53 J.J. Yeley
29 15 Ross Chastain
30 88 Alex Bowman
31 41 Daniel Suarez
32 52 Garrett Smithley
33 27 Reed Sorenson
34 77 Timmy Hill
35 14 Clint Bowyer
36 9 Chase Elliott
37 10 Aric Almirola
38 48 Jimmie Johnson