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Martin Truex Jr. laments late caution that cost him Richmond win

RICHMOND, Va. — Denny Hamlin celebrated his second win of the season Sunday night while one of his teammates left the track frustrated.

“Lead the whole race and then some stupid, some dumba** move brings out a caution coming to the white flag and ruins our whole night,” Martin Truex Jr. said after finishing fourth in the race.

Truex’s comments were in reference to contact from Bubba Wallace that sent Kyle Larson spinning toward the infield grass. The two drivers were racing for fourth place while Truex was trying to hold off a hard-charging Joey Logano for the win.

The caution changed the race, one that Truex had dominated during the final stage.

Instead of taking the white flag and cruising to a win after leading more than 200 laps, Truex had to prepare for a late pit stop and an overtime restart.

Truex was first onto pit road, but it was Denny Hamlin’s team who put the No. 11 in the lead from third place. Truex exited second after a slower stop and lost the ability to be in control on the final restart of the race.

Hamlin took the green flag with a fast restart and gained an advantage over his teammate. Truex raced back in Turn 1 and pinched Hamlin toward the bottom of the track. As the two drivers exited Turn 1, Hamlin ran Truex toward the outside wall.

This move put Hamlin in the lead for the final time. He went on to win for the fifth time at Richmond.

Truex expressed frustration at the end of the race. He said over the radio that Hamlin had jumped the restart. He also chased down Hamlin and hit him three times from behind to show his displeasure about the how the final two laps unfolded.

“I felt like (Hamlin) used me up there in Turn 1,” Truex said. “I didn’t really appreciate a teammate racing me like that. I wish he would have gave me a chance. But that’s the way it is.”

Denny Hamlin scored his 53rd career Cup victory.

Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said that NASCAR reviewed the final restart. Sawyer said the restart was close but that it was ultimately good.

“I went right at (the restart zone) for sure,” Hamlin said after the race. “I did that because I saw those guys rolling to me. (Logano) was laying back, (Truex) was rolling a couple of miles an hour quicker than I was, so I wasn’t going to let them have an advantage that my team earned on pit road.

“So certainly made sure that once my nose got there, I took off right away. But still we were side by side and down in the water in Turn 1.”

It didn’t matter that Truex led a race-high 228 laps and won a stage as he sought his fourth career Richmond win. He failed to win for the sixth time in the last eight races at Richmond after leading at least 100 laps.

Sunday night’s race was just another missed opportunity in a championship career.

“My Auto-Owners Camry was a rocket,” Truex said. “It was something like we’ve had here in the past and unfortunately, it’s happened to us here a few times.”