TRUEX DOMINATES AT “MARTIN’S” VILLE
Sun, 2019-10-27 16:46
The easiest way to get to the NASCAR Final Four is to absolutely dominate the First Data 500 at Martinsville; something Martin Truex Jr easily did with leading 464 laps on his way to his seventh win of the season.
Hometown favorite, Denny Hamlin, won the pole while Chase Elliott got second but would have to start from the rear due to blowing a motor in the first practice; Aric Almirola then took over the spot. Hamlin easily got to the lead on the green while Truex kept along the bottom with him and moved to second. As drivers started to get aggressive early, the first caution of the day came out as Ross Chastain came up in front of Matt Crafton (Filling in for Matt Tifft after he had a health scare and had to go to the hospital earlier in the week. He would be discharged but was not cleared to race.) and tore off part of his splitter and knocked out the brake ducts from the right front. Truex was first off pit-road while Ryan Blaney got to second when Hamlin had a long stop. No issues on the restart as Truex and Blaney get away easily. After some long side-by-side racing and attitude between Clint Bowyer and Daniel Suarez, Suarez was able to get a fast run on the top to get fourth while Truex had lapped up to twentieth place. Truex went on to win the stage even with constantly having to deal with heavy traffic.
After no lead changes off of pit-road, Truex got out ahead as Bowyer forced himself into second with William Byron following him for third. The second caution of the day hits as Ty Dillon tries to squeeze down in front of Daniel Hemric and gets spun in doing so. No major changes off pit-road except for Chase Elliott, who had made his way all the way back to the top five, falling quite a few spots. Elliott falling on the pitstop turned out to be a worst-case scenario for his Playoff hopes as his car had a broken axle and he would fall many laps down as his team had to take the car to the garage to make the repairs. Truex pulled away again on the restart while Brad Keselowski had a heavy tire rub from pit-road contact with Jimmie Johnson. Bowyer began to have major issues after being moved by Blaney for second; Bowyer had a right rear tire start to go flat and he’d have to pit. On pit road, Bowyer’s crew changed the left side tires only and as he came back out on the track, he immediately starts to lose control of the car as the right rear shreds and brings out the caution. The caution set up a four-lap run to the end of the stage; Everyone pitted except for Kyle Larson, who needed the points to help make the Final Four. A bad restart by Truex let Larson get away while Blaney battled for second. The risk seemed to be working perfectly for Larson until Truex got to second and was just able to pass for the lead and the stage win on the last lap.
Truex and Blaney start the third stage on the front row; Truex checks out again. Blaney began to fall after some bad changes and he lost positions to Joey Logano and Byron. The caution then came out for Austin Dillon losing a tire and getting the wall. Everyone pitted and Truex was able to keep the lead while Blaney moved back to second. Truex once again pulled away for some laps but not as much as he’d like as Byron got to second and started to gain ground on him. The caution then came out again for a big crash; Aric Almirola and Kyle Busch, who had been racing each other hard for quite some time, got tangled together and get forced into the wall. Busch spun on the backstretch and had heavy damage but was able to continue while Almirola got slammed into the inside wall; Ryan Preece and Matt DiBenedetto got heavy damage trying to avoid Busch while Jimmie Johnson slammed into Almirola trying to avoid as well, ending their days. After another restart, the caution came out again for Alex Bowman clipping Bubba Wallace in the right rear and coming up right into Daniel Suarez. All three kept moving but only Wallace was able to stay on the lead lap and get a finish of thirteenth, another impressive finish for the Richard Petty Motorsports team over the last few weeks. On the restart it was Truex, Blaney, And Byron again as the caution came out for another tire issue for Bowyer. The green waved again after everyone pitted, Byron was able to get to second behind Truex. The yellow waved shortly after when Hamlin door slammed Logano in the wall coming out of a turn, the slam gave Logano a flat which ended in a spin. On the restart, Byron got a strong outside run and started to gain on Truex. The run was spoiled after a caution came out for Daniel Hemric spinning after heavy contact with Michael McDowell. When the green wave for the last time, Truex was pulling away as Byron tried everything but wreck Truex to get the lead. But it would not come to be, as Logano and Hamlin fought on pit-road after the tempers boiled over, Truex was celebrating his win and automatic advancement into the Final Four.