Martin Truex Jr. dominates to win at Martinsville and advance to Championship 4

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Martin Truex Jr. led a record-setting 464 laps dominating the First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway to score his seventh victory of the season. It was his 26th NASCAR Cup Series win, the first at the .526-mile track and his 12th top-10 finish in 28 starts at Martinsville.

It also locks Truex into the Championship 4 for a shot at the series title at Homestead-Miami Speedway in three weeks.

“I’m just really happy about it, obviously,” said Truex. “I’ve been trying to work on getting a Martinsville win for a long time. It’s a tough track. It’s one that, you know, everybody I think wants to win at, the history here, and it’s such a big part of NASCAR. 

“Really proud of everybody on our team for what they did and the car they brought, the pit stops today were incredible and the guys did a great job. So just all around a great day. To lead that many laps here is pretty incredible.”

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While Truex stole the show in Victory Lane, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano provided the encore with an altercation after the race. The tension was a result of an incident on Lap 458 when the two made contact causing Logano to hit the outside wall. What started as a discussion quickly turned into a wrestling match.

“Yeah, I just wanted to talk to him about it and was pretty frustrated,” Logano explained.

“He just kind of came off the corner like there wasn’t another car on the outside of him and ruined our day, a shot at the win for sure. We probably weren’t going to beat the 19 but we had a top-five for sure coming our way, but we were just able to survive there.

“I don’t really know what happened because once he started hitting me, he didn’t lift, he just kept finishing me off. We ran each other fine all day, so I don’t know. I don’t really know what happened.”

The situation escalated when Logano shoved Hamlin and ended with both crews pulling the drivers apart. Not surprisingly, Hamlin’s take on the disagreement was quite different.

“We were having a discussion,” he said. “Everything was civil, and then, like Joey does, he does a little push and then runs away. So that’s Joey. Scared. He said, ‘Do you want to go?’ I said, ‘Yes, I’m here.’ But then he runs away.”

Hamlin also insinuated that the contact was incidental.

“I got close off of Turn 4,” he said. “It looks like we got together and it looks like collateral damage. He blew a tire.”

William Byron turned in a strong performance but had had to settle for second place, his 13th top-10 finish this year.

“This isn’t a place that I’ve loved coming to,” said Byron, “and it just clicked this weekend. The things we did with the car going into qualifying and then obviously our race. So, I’m super excited, but second is not super fun either. So, we’ll try to get one spot better next time.”

Brad Keselowski finished third followed by Hamlin in fourth and Ryan Blaney in fifth.  Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Logano, Kyle Larson and Ryan Newman rounded out the top-10 at Martinsville.

Truex, Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Logano are currently the top four drivers in the points standings but Truex is the only driver locked into the Championship 4. Kevin Harvick (-14), Ryan Blaney (-15), Larson (-24) and Chase Elliott (-44) are all below the cut line with only two races remaining before the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 17.

Tune in next Sunday as the Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway.

Follow @angiecampbell_ for the latest NASCAR news and feature stories.

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