Martin Truex scores his first short-track win in Cup, edges Joey Logano at Richmond
RICHMOND, Va. — Martin Truex Jr. took the checkered flag for the first time at a short track in his 14 full-time seasons in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
The No. 19 Toyota driver won the Toyota Owners 400 on Saturday night at Richmond Raceway — his first victory after 80 winless short track events in NASCAR's premier series. It was also his first win as the newest driver for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Like the first eight races of the 2019 season, the ninth was dominated by JGR and Team Penske drivers. Aside from pole-sitter and Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kevin Harvick’s first 30 laps out front, the majority race was controlled by the two dominant racing teams, which account for all the winners this season so far.
Truex and Team Penske's Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano traded the lead with each other throughout the second half of the race. SHR driver Clint Bowyer was running second and spent the final 100 laps trying to chase down leader Truex but just couldn’t get there.
Martin Truex Jr. celebrates after winning the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway. (Photo: Amber Searls, USA TODAY Sports)
With about 20 laps remaining, Logano joined Bowyer in the hunt for the win and trailed Truex by less than a second, but neither found an opportunity to attempt a big move.
Logano passed Bowyer with three laps remaining for second place and rode Truex’s bumper before running out of time. The defending Cup Series champion finished just .178 seconds behind Truex.
Bowyer finished third, Harvick was fourth and JGR driver Denny Hamlin closed out the top five.
That battle was AWESOME. Retweet to congratulate Martin Truex Jr. on his WIN in Richmond (and his first career victory on a short track)! pic.twitter.com/MN6lAm2mys
STAGE 2: With just four laps remaining in the second stage, Logano pushed past then-leader Truex, who got loose and slid a little out of his line.
For the majority of the stage, Truex took control and was racing towards the lead on Lap 132 when Kyle Larson made contact with the Turn 1 wall, bringing out the caution and suffering enough damage to end his day.
Kyle Larson is done for the night. Here's what happened: pic.twitter.com/bm2OdZs7NI
When the cars came in to pit on that caution early in the second stage, then-leader Kyle Busch was busted for speeding on pit road and was dropped to the back of the field of cars still on the lead lap to 26th. That’s when Truex took over and led for 63 laps in the second stage before Logano stole the lead and the lone playoff point awarded to the winner of each stage.
To close out Stage 2, Logano and Truex were followed by Harvick, Keselowski, Bowyer, Suárez, Kurt Busch, Erik Jones, Chris Buescher and Paul Menard in the top 10.
STAGE 1: It took Kyle Busch all of 30 laps to steal the lead away from pole-sitter Harvick and led for the remaining 70 laps in the first stage. Busch and the No. 18 Toyota squad continue proving they’re among the teams to beat on a weekly basis, even when they don’t take the checkered flag.
Busch won the first stage — it marked his fifth stage win of the season — and earned another playoff point. Logano was second, followed by Truex, Harvick, Bowyer, Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Buescher, Menard and Daniel Suárez to round out the top 10.
After just 40 laps, NASCAR threw the yellow flag for a planned competition caution. Because of rain on-and-off this weekend and throughout the night, the rubber and added traction remaining on the track was minimal, so the break gave teams an opportunity to evaluate and change their tires. Kyle Busch maintained his lead, winning the race off pit road and immediately jumped back out to an uncontested lead.
Follow Martinelli on Twitter @MMartinelli4.
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