Our Clients:

Field Level Media - Professional sports content solutions | FLM

Apr 5, 2024 3:20 pm

Tempers simmering as Cup Series action moves to Martinsville

nascar truex

When NASCAR’s most unflappable and respected driver becomes slightly unhinged at the end of a race, you know the action is heating up on the short-track portion of the Cup Series schedule.

After stops in Phoenix, Bristol and Richmond, the first half of the regular season’s collection of short-track points races comes to an end when the Cup Series visits historic Martinsville Speedway for the Cook Out 400 on Sunday afternoon.

However, some of the tension from a frantic finish at Richmond on Sunday night will surely be hauled down from the Commonwealth’s capital to Martinsville, tucked away near the North Carolina state line.

Winless since his success at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last July, Martin Truex Jr. had a healthy lead with two circuits left before Kyle Larson spun to force late pit service and a green-white-checker shootout in overtime.

That caution irked Truex, a 34-time Cup winner, but losing out to Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin in the two-lap dash and contact with polesitter Larson comprised the final straw.

“You know, lead the whole race and then some stupid, some (dumb) move brings out a caution coming to the white flag and ruins our whole night, so that’s unfortunate,” said Truex, who finished fourth and topped with 228 laps led.

“I felt (Hamlin) used me up down there in Turn 1, and I didn’t really appreciate a teammate racing me like that.”

The No. 19 Toyota driver also felt Hamlin jumped the restart, but NASCAR disagreed because of its timing.

“It’s a bang-bang call,” said Elton Sawyer, NASCAR’s vice president of competition, on Sirius XM Tuesday. “It’s at the end of the race. We’re a live sporting event. We don’t have the luxury of a timeout and go to the sideline and review it and make that call.

“Because he was the leader, he did get some of that benefit. If he’s not the leader, then it’s a whole different conversation that we’re having.”

Truex then hit Larson after the checkers flew and the Hendrick Motorsports driver returned contact. The 2017 Cup Series champion raced up to Hamlin’s No. 11 and bumped him hard a few times as well.

“I think he was mad … that (Hamlin) used him up on the restart,” said Larson, who was third. “I think he was more mad at Denny, but I was the closest to take his anger out on.

“Martin is probably the most respected guy in the garage area. I hope he doesn’t have any hard feelings to me because I definitely don’t toward him. I’ve got a lot of respect for him.”

Built in 1947, the flat, paper-clip-shaped Martinsville Speedway is the series’ shortest track (0.525 miles), and the layout provides hard racing in a shorter distance (400 laps/210 miles) than usual.

In addition to the likelihood of more episodic anger, Martinsville may see the usual suspects from Richmond’s wild finish up front at the smaller track.

In his 550th career NASCAR start, Richmond runner-up Joey Logano has the best average finish at Martinsville — 5.2 — over the past six events.

Hamlin tops the series in active victories at the tight track with five while Truex is second with three.

–Field Level Media

You may also like

Ryan Blaney
Jun 16, 2024 10:47 pm

Ryan Blaney wins at Iowa Speedway, ends victory drought

Ryan Blaney finally found his way into the win column this year by leading a career-high 201 laps Sunday night, taking the inaugural Iowa Corn 350 Powered by Ethanol NASCAR…

Kyle Larson
Jun 15, 2024 4:12 pm

Kyle Larson goes last, takes pole for first Cup Series race at Iowa Speedway

NEWTON, Iowa — Kyle Larson was hoping for a rainout of Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series qualifying session at Iowa Speedway. His wish wasn’t granted, but in the end, it didn’t…

martin truex celebrates
Jun 14, 2024 7:09 pm

Examining Martin Truex Jr.’s legacy, from Furniture Row to JGR

When Martin Truex Jr. won at Pocono Raceway on June 7, 2015, most race fans didn’t read too deeply into it. While it was nice to see Truex, who hadn’t…

More Auto Racing News

Ryan Blaney
Jun 16, 2024 10:47 pm

Ryan Blaney wins at Iowa Speedway, ends victory drought

Ryan Blaney finally found his way into the win column this year by leading a career-high 201 laps Sunday night, taking the inaugural Iowa Corn 350 Powered by Ethanol NASCAR…

Kyle Larson
Jun 15, 2024 4:12 pm

Kyle Larson goes last, takes pole for first Cup Series race at Iowa Speedway

martin truex celebrates
Jun 14, 2024 7:09 pm

Examining Martin Truex Jr.’s legacy, from Furniture Row to JGR

truex
Jun 14, 2024 6:57 pm

Martin Truex Jr. confirms he will retire from full-time racing

iowa speedway
Jun 14, 2024 2:28 pm

Drivers expect fun, full house at Iowa Speedway series debut

Read all
fb-post
advertisment
title-icon

Upcoming events

See all odds