Martin Truex Jr. snaps winless streak by taking Richmond
9/12/2021 12:10:55 AM EST
Martin Truex, Jr. ended a 15-race winless streak on Saturday night when he won the Federated Auto Parts 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond Raceway in Virginia.
The victory in the second race of the Round of 16 in the Playoffs was Truex's fourth of the season and secured him a berth in the Round of 12, which begins in two weeks.
"I knew there was a lot on the line tonight so I'm very happy to get to do this and go to Bristol next week without any worries," Truex said.
He got the win despite being penalized for jumping the race-opening start.
"That was frustrating," Truex said. "I'm not going to lie. But I knew we'd have a good enough car to overcome it. It felt pretty good those first couple laps. Just one of those things. You've got to put it out of your mind and you've got to go race."
Of the slump, which dates back to early May when he won at Darlington, Truex said, "Yes, it's been awhile. We talked last week about how much speed we've had in these things."
Truex took the lead with 50 laps to go. From there his task was to stay out of trouble, avoid lapped traffic in order to protect an eight-second lead over Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin.
Hamlin made it interesting but Truex, who swept both 2019 races at the .75-mile Richmond oval, finished 1.4 seconds ahead of Hamlin.
"Just a couple more (laps), just a couple more," Hamlin said.
The Virginia native Hamlin, who won a week ago at Darlington to secure his place in the Round of 12, led a race-best 197 laps.
"It's go time now," Hamlin said. "I really wish we would have gotten two in a row but regardless, still a great day for our team."
A third JGR teammate, Christopher Bell, finished third.
"All of our Joe Gibbs Racing cars were fast, so hats off to everybody back at the shop," Bell said.
Chase Elliott, who also crashed out at Darlington, overcame a terrible pit stop about 183 laps into the 400-lapper, to finish fourth.
"Nice rebound after last week," Elliott said. "Everything about Darlington was miserable. Everything about last weekend was miserable. Nice to come here and put together a solid night."
Joey Logano of Team Penske finished fifth.
Kyle Busch of JGR, who crashed out a week ago and was the fined $50,000 for "actions detrimental to stock car racing" in the aftermath of that wreck, was leading with 55 laps to go. But on his final green-flag stop, he was penalized for speeding and fell back to 10th -- the final spot on the led lap. He wound up ninth.
Kyle Larson didn't get his sixth victory of the season but was able to secure a berth in the Round of 12 by way of points. He finished sixth.
Kurt Busch of Chip Ganassi Racing was the first Playoff driver to run into major trouble as he blew a tire and slammed the outside wall hard on Lap 41. Four laps earlier he had restarted the race after a competition with the lead. Busch had finished sixth in the Playoffs opener at Darlington the week before.
"Something happened on the left rear (tire). It let go," Busch said. "And it let go of our points and it let go of our whole season right now."
The series moves to Bristol Motor Speedway next Saturday night for the final race of the Playoffs opening Round of 16.
--Field Level Media
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