Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Martin Truex Jr. Seizes First Win of 2020 at Martinsville

By Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service

Martin Truex Jr. won his second consecutive Martinsville Speedway race Wednesday night, ultimately cruising to a 4.232-second victory over a super competitive Team Penske trio of cars in the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500.

Compared to his dominating victory at the half-mile track last Fall (he led 464 of 500 laps), Truex had to negotiate and muscle his way to the front this time.

“We’ve been working a long-time on trying to figure this place out and just been chipping away at it,” said Truex, who drives the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry.

“The last couple years we’ve been really strong. 2018 was a heartbreaker at the end of the race there. Last year to get the win and this year, hats off to the guys.”

All three Team Penske cars hounded Truex and kept him honest, ready to seize upon any late race slip-up or lapse in concentration. But the 2017 series champion Truex was strong and determined, earning his first victory of the season in the first official NASCAR Cup Series “night race” since the historic track installed lights in 2017.

Penske teammates Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano finished second, third and fourth. They combined to lead 273 laps with Logano’s 234-laps out front, the most for any driver on the night.

Hendrick Motorsports teammates Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman finished fifth and sixth. Matt DiBenedetto, whose iconic Wood Brothers Racing team hails from Virginia, finished seventh with William Byron, Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson rounding out the top-10.

Bubba Wallace, who drove the famed No. 43 for Richard Petty Motorsports, earned his career-best NASCAR Cup Series finish at Martinsville (11th) – he and Johnson had a close competition for the 10th-position in the final laps.

“All in all, great job to come here and execute with no practice,” said Wallace, who has two NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series wins at Martinsville. “My favorite place and it just continues to show.

“I’ll tell you what was badass was to race with ole seven-time (Johnson) there at the end. You think Jimmie Johnson wins so many times here and we’re running him down. Hats off to my guys. Good job fellows.”

At times it felt like three distinctive races in one. Logano won the first stage handily leading the way. Johnson won the second stage – his 70 laps out front the most he’s led in a single race since 2017. And then Truex took control of the third stage and was able to keep the field at bay and pull out to a comfortable lead. It was a tame night by short track standards with seven total caution periods– three for single-car incidents on track.

Truex’s good fortune was in stark contrast to his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates who suffered through a long night of frustration. Reigning series champion Kyle Busch went a lap down early and finished 19th, just ahead of teammate Erik Jones. Denny Hamlin – a two-race winner in 2020 – reported problems with his No. 11 Toyota almost immediately after the green flag dropped and went three laps down by night’s end, finishing 24th.

Tyler Reddick’s 16th-place finish in the No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet made him the top-finishing Sunoco rookie.

Kevin Harvick’s 15th-place finish marked only the second time in the season’s 11 races that he did not finish among the top-10, but it was still good enough to retain the championship lead – by 28 points over Joey Logano and 47 points on third place Chase Elliott.

The NASCAR Cup Series next race, the Dixie Vodka 400, is Sunday (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

NASCAR Cup Series Race – 71st Annual Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500

Martinsville Speedway

Martinsville, Virginia

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

  1. (5)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 500.
  2. (1)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 500.
  3. (6)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 500.
  4. (3)  Joey Logano, Ford, 500.
  5. (11)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 500.
  6. (8)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 500.
  7. (19)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 500.
  8. (15)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 500.
  9. (9)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 500.
  10. (21)  Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 500.
  11. (23)  Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 500.
  12. (16)  Ryan Newman, Ford, 500.
  13. (24)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 500.
  14. (29)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 500.
  15. (10)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 499.
  16. (14)  Tyler Reddick #, Chevrolet, 499.
  17. (4)  Clint Bowyer, Ford, 499.
  18. (25)  Corey LaJoie, Ford, 499.
  19. (7)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 499.
  20. (13)  Erik Jones, Toyota, 497.
  21. (17)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 497.
  22. (30)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 497.
  23. (20)  Matt Kenseth, Chevrolet, 497.
  24. (12)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 497.
  25. (18)  John Hunter Nemechek #, Ford, 497.
  26. (28)  Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 496.
  27. (37)  Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 494.
  28. (32)  Christopher Bell #, Toyota, 494.
  29. (27)  Cole Custer #, Ford, 494.
  30. (31)  Brennan Poole #, Chevrolet, 494.
  31. (26)  JJ Yeley(i), Ford, 493.
  32. (33)  David Starr(i), Chevrolet, 479.
  33. (2)  Aric Almirola, Ford, Battery, 476.
  34. (34)  Quin Houff #, Chevrolet, 474.
  35. (36)  Joey Gase(i), Chevrolet, 464.
  36. (35)  Garrett Smithley(i), Chevrolet, 450.
  37. (22)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, Accident, 399.
  38. (39)  Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, Electrical, 295.
  39. (38)  Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, Fuel Pump, 105.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  77.378 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 23 Mins, 56 Secs. Margin of Victory:  4.705 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  7 for 52 laps.

Lead Changes:  14 among 8 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   R. Blaney 0;A. Almirola 1-19;J. Logano 20-62;C. Elliott 63;J. Logano 64-114;M. Truex Jr. 115;C. LaJoie 116-120;J. Logano 121-201;J. Johnson 202-271;R. Blaney 272-283;J. Logano 284-306;R. Blaney 307-328;J. Logano 329-364;B. Keselowski 365-369;M. Truex Jr. 370-500.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Joey Logano 5 times for 234 laps; Martin Truex Jr. 2 times for 132 laps; Jimmie Johnson 1 time for 70 laps; Ryan Blaney 2 times for 34 laps; Aric Almirola 1 time for 19 laps; Brad Keselowski 1 time for 5 laps; Corey LaJoie 1 time for 5 laps; Chase Elliott 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 22,14,48,19,43,9,1,4,21,24

Stage #2 Top Ten: 48,12,22,88,4,43,24,9,1,8

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