Truex is NASCAR’s First Repeat Cup Winner of Season
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (AP) — Martin Truex Jr. battled teammate Denny Hamlin for the lead before winning Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway.
Truex won a stirring, laps-long duel for the lead with teammate Hamlin in the rain-delayed race Sunday night, winning for the third time in the last four stops at the 0.526-mile oval — the oldest and shortest in the series.
“This place has become a playground for us I guess,” Truex said in Victory Lane. “We didn’t have the best car all day, but we just kept working on it and never quit on it.”
Truex nudged Hamlin repeatedly in the turns and tried to get to his inside on the straightaways without success. Truex, finally made the pass with 15 laps to go, ducking underneath Hamlin coming out of the second turn. Truex sailed off to victory without another challenge as Hamlin and Chase Elliott battled the rest of the way for second.
The outcome was not only disappointing for Hamlin, who had a dominant car and led 276 laps, but also for Ryan Blaney, who won the first two stages and led 157 laps but dragged an air gun out of his pit after the final stop and was sent back to 19th in the field.
It’s the third victory in the last four races on the 0.526-mile oval for Truex, who also became the first repeat winner this season after seven different drivers posted victories.
Elliott was second, followed by Hamlin, William Byron and Kyle Larson.
The series stays in Virginia, and on a short track, at Richmond Raceway next weekend.