Martin Truex Jr. Advances To Championship 4 With Martinsville Playoff Victoryby Camille Jones October 27, 2019 1 comment
MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Martin Truex Jr. punched his ticket to the Championship 4 of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with a dominant victory in Sunday’s First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
The driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Auto Owners Insurance Toyota led 464 of the 500 laps on Sunday, winning all three stages of the race. Truex now has seven wins this season. The victory comes a year after last year’s dominant performance was derailed as Joey Logano snagged the lead in the final turn of the final lap, stealing the victory.
“I can’t believe we just won Martinsville, man,” said Truex. “Miami is awesome, but we’ve wanted to win here for a long time, but the guys have worked so hard, I’ve worked so hard. I used to just be terrible here, and just an awesome bunch of guys. What can I say, Auto Owners, Bass Pro, TRD, everybody back at the shop, brand new race car, and again, it still want to keep going…”
William Byron raced for it all as he tried to reach the bumper of Truex. Byron was forced to settle for a second-place finish on Sunday, his 13th top-10 finish of 2019. Byron wasn’t sure what he’d be able to do had he made it to the bumper of the No. 19 car, knowing how dominant Truex had been for the entirety of the event; however, he put up a fight in the closing laps to give it his best shot.
“I don’t know, he was really strong,” said Byron. “I could work my brake bias a little bit in the car and gain a little bit, and then I’d get to him and I’d heat him up a lot and then kind of fall back. I don’t really know. He was super strong. Our car bounced a little bit on the short run, which was tough to kind of get around. But overall it was a really good day.”
Byron continued and said, “This isn’t a place that I’ve loved coming to, and it just clicked this weekend, the things we did with the car going into qualifying and then obviously our race. Super excited, but second is not super fun, either. We’ll try to get one spot better next time.”
Brad Keselowski finished in the third position on Sunday, earning his 14th top-10 finish in 20 starts at Martinsville Speedway.
Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney finished in the top-five, while Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Kyle Larson and Ryan Newman rounded out the top-10 in the First Data 500.
There were 19 cars on the lead lap at the end of the event. Under Truex’s dominant performance, there were only three lead changes. Hamlin and Larson were the other leaders in the event for a combined 36 laps.
Over the course of the race, there were 11 cautions for a total of 69 laps under yellow.
The largest accident occurred on lap 363. Aric Almirola and Kyle Busch made contact in Turn 4, collecting Ryan Preece, Jimmie Johnson and sustaining minor damage to others as they crashed on the frontstretch.
Several incidents of flat tires from contact between competitors brought out the caution throughout the race as debris was left on the racing surface.
With just three races left in the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, Truex leads the point standings by 20 points over Hamlin.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway next weekend for the AAA Texas 500 on Sunday, November 3. Live race coverage will be found on NBCSN and the Performance Racing Network (PRN) at 3 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com