Martin Truex Jr. wins historic Martinsville night race
After a historic day and on a historic night, Martin Truex Jr. won the first Cup night race at Martinsville Speedway on Wednesday.
His victory came after a day of news in NASCAR that included the sanctioning body removing guidelines that required competitors to stand for the national anthem and NASCAR’s announcement that it was prohibiting the Confederate flag at all its events and properties.
The race, held without fans, was the second win in a row for Truex at Martinsville Speedway. He won last fall’s playoff race there. He overcame a commitment line violation penalty on Lap 133 to win Wednesday night’s 500-lap race. The victory was his first of the season and also marked his fourth win in the last six short track races.
“Tick tock,” Truex said on his team’s radio after the race, referencing the grandfather clock he receives with the win, the 27th of his career.
Ryan Blaney, who finished second, also overcome a penalty and falling a lap down early. He was penalized on Lap 328 when a pit crew member was over the pit wall too soon. Blaney was followed by his Team Penske teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. Chase Elliott finished fifth.
Bubba Wallace, who said before the event this was “the biggest race of my career,” finished 11th.
“It was badass racing with seven-time there at the end, Jimmie Johnson,” said Wallace, who finished a spot behind Johnson. “You think Jimmie Johnson wins so many times here (nine times) and we’re running him down (at the end).”
STAGE 1 WINNER: Joey Logano
STAGE 2 WINNER: Jimmie Johnson
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Team Penske with Ryan Blaney second, Brad Keselowski third and Joey Logano fourth. And Matt DiBenedetto was seventh for the Wood Brothers, who are aligned with Team Penske. ... Jimmie Johnson led a season-high 70 laps before finishing 10th. ... Bubba Wallace placed 11th, a career-best finish for him in a Cup race at Martinsville.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: … Denny Hamlin fell a lap down before the competition caution and was never a factor, as his car had overheating issues. He finished 24th ... Kyle Busch was never a factor all night, falling off the lead lap early and never getting back on it. He placed 19th. ... Austin Dillon had damage early when he lost a tire and was overcome by the exhaust that got in his car. He pulled out of the race with about 100 laps to go and was helped out of the car. Dillon finished 37th. He was treated and released from the infield care center.
NOTABLE: Seven of the top 10 spots were taken by two organizations. All four of Hendrick Motorsports cars finished in the top 10 and all three of Team Penske’s cars placed in the top 10.
NEXT: The Cup Series races at Miami on Sunday (3:30 p.m. ET on Fox)