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Under the radar drivers have noteworthy day at Martinsville

While most of the attention was on Brad Keselowski’s dominant win Sunday at Martinsville Speedway, several other drivers had noteworthy under-the-radar finishes.

Among those:

* While some might consider a 17th-place finish a mediocre outing, it was a high point for Bubba Wallace. He finally cracked the top 20 in Cup race finishes at Martinsville after consecutive 34th-place finishes in both races in 2018. It also was Wallace’s best Cup finish since he finished 10th at Phoenix in last season’s playoff race.

“It was a very trying day … that resulted in a strong finish at the Martinsville Speedway,” Wallace said.

* Ty Dillon is continuing to show steady progress this season. His 13th-place finish at Martinsville was his third top-15 result of the season. He opened the season by placing sixth in the Daytona 500.

Also of note, Dillon didn’t record his third top 15 last season until Daytona, 18 races into the season..

“I am really proud of our effort,” Dillon said after Sunday’s race. “This is what we envisioned three years ago in doing. Just getting better every year and making sure we had taken the right steps to be where we needed to be in year three. We just want to keep going in that direction.

“I think as we continue to grow we are going to be more and more competitive at the short tracks. We just have to get it where we are running top 15 at the 1.5-mile tracks, and then we can be really competitive.”
* Paul Menard continues to make progress at Wood Brothers Racing, earning his fourth top-15 (and fifth top-20) finish of the season with a 15th place showing at Martinsville.

Menard has six top-20 finishes in his last eight starts at the .526-mile short track.

* Ryan Preece finished 16th Sunday for his best result since placing eighth in the Daytona 500.

“We got in a hole in Stage 2 and were able to climb out of it and get back to there,” Preece tweeted. “Building that notebook for what I need is just the start. We all want top 10s right now. Hard work and teamwork will get us there.”
* Matt DiBenedetto earned his second consecutive top-20 finish: 18th at Fontana and 20th Sunday at Martinsville. Those are his best finishes thus far in 2019.

Follow @JerryBonkowski