Martin Truex Jr. Tops Joe Gibbs Racing Teammates To Win In Richmondby Hunter Thomas September 11, 2021 1 comment
RICHMOND – Martin Truex Jr. will advance to the Round of 12 of the NASCAR Playoffs after he outran his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates on Saturday en route to winning the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway.
Entering the night, the last time that Truex had visited Victory Lane was back in May at Darlington Raceway when he took the checkered flag in the Goodyear 400. On Saturday at Richmond, the driver of the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Red White Blue Toyota was forced to serve a pass through for jumping the initial start of the 400-lap race. Throughout the night, Truex methodically made his way back through the field, and he eventually made his way to the lead. Truex led the final 51 laps of the race while also keeping his teammates, Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell at bay. The victory on Sunday marks Truex’s fourth of the 2021 season and his third at Richmond.
“Yeah, it’s a big day,” Truex said. “It’s an important day in our history. I think all of us here — yeah, we’re proud to win, and this car is amazing and there’s so many people to thank, but what a day to win on. It reminds you of the honor and the privilege it is to get to come out here and do this.
“All these great fans that come out here, we couldn’t do any of these kind of things without the men and women that take care of us and all the first responders, police officers, firefighters, the military, you name it. NASCAR is very patriotic and we’re very proud, and Johnny Morris is very patriotic; that’s why this thing is red, white and blue. So very proud of everybody to be able to do this today.”
Hamlin led nearly half of the race as he was out in front of the field for a total of 197 laps, and he also swept Stages 1 and 2, but in the end, he came up short for the victory and finished second in the No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota.
“Yeah, just a couple more,” Hamlin said. “But our pit stops were a little slow there and we lost about two or three seconds, maybe four on pit road those two stops, and about a second and a half behind. We were coming, just we got off track with our car right there in the middle stages of the race, but overall Chris and the team made great adjustments there at the end on the FedEx Camry, just needed a couple more laps, that’s all.”
Bell finished third on Saturday night, earning his best-ever Richmond finish. Heading into Bristol, Truex and Hamlin are locked into the Round of 12, but Jones will be only 17 points ahead of the cutoff line.
“Yeah, I feel good about it, and Bristol is a really good racetrack for our company and me and a driver, but it’s a little bit — it’s just you can get caught up in stuff so easily at Bristol,” Bell said. “It’s nice to have a buffer and hopefully we can go to Bristol and have an uneventful event.”
Chase Elliott had a strong fourth-place effort. Joey Logano completed the top-five. Rounding out the top-10 was Kyle Larson, Ross Chastain, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney.
The caution flew on five occasions for 30 laps. Only two cautions were for an accident.
Kurt Busch blew a tire heading into Turn 1, and he slammed the wall to bring out the second caution of the night on Lap 42.
Bubba Wallace hit the wall in Turn 1 to bring out the caution fifth and final caution on Lap 251.
Following the Federated Auto Parts 400, Hamlin, Truex and Larson are locked into the Round of 12. Logano is +40 to the good, followed by Blaney (+28), Kevin Harvick (+25), Chase Elliott (+19), Bell (+17), Brad Keselowski (+13), Kyle Busch (+8), Aric Almirola (+3) and Kurt Busch (+0). Alex Bowman is tied for the final Playoff position, followed by Tyer Reddick (-5), William Byron (-18) and Michael McDowell (-38).
Up next on the schedule for the NASCAR Cup Series is the Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday, September 18. Live coverage will broadcast on NBCSN and PRN at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com