MARTINSVILLE, VA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr is guaranteed a spot in the NASCAR Championship Four after dominating the First Data 400 Monster Energy Cup Series race Sunday at Martinsville Speedway.
Truex, the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series Champion, started third and led 464-laps en route to the victory. The win was Truex’s first at Martinsville, seventh of 2019 and 26th of his career.
“I can’t believe we won Martinsville,” exclaimed Truex after the win. “We’ve really wanted to win here for a long time. I’m just proud of everybody for giving me a race car like that. To get a Grandfather clock if pretty special.”
Hendrick Motorsports William Byron finished second, the best finish of his young career.
“This is a place that I have loved coming to and it clicked,” said Byron. “I wouldn’t race him (Truex) dirty but I’m really hungry for my first win but he ran such a good race.”
Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski finished third followed by pole sitter Denny Hamlin with Penske’s Ryan Blaney rounding out the top 5.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch finished sixth followed by Stewart Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick.
“That last restart I got stuck on the outside and lost a spot,” said Harvick. “We were able to minimize the damage there and make something out of the day.”
Team Penske’s Joey Logano finished eighth with Ganassi’s Kyle Larson in ninth. Larson leaves Martinsville in 7th place in the playoffs, 24-points behind the 4th place cutoff.
Maximized our points today. Still have a lot of work to do to get better day but happy to get a top 10. Ready for Texas!
— Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) October 28, 2019
Hamlin and Logano and their crews got into an altercation on pit road after the race. The pair got together on a restart with Hamlin on the inside of Logano coming off turn four, squeezing Logano into the wall. Logano cut a tire, bringing out the caution and sending the No. 22 Pennzoil Mustang to pit road for repairs.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) October 27, 2019
“We were having a discussion, everything was civil and then like Joey does, he does a little push and then runs away,” said Hamlin. “He said, ‘do you want to go’ and I said, ‘yes I’m here’ and then he runs away. I got close off of turn 4, we got together, and it looks like collateral damage he blew a tire.”
“I just wanted to talk to him about it,” said Logano. “He wasn’t really apologetic at all. He kind of came off the corner like there wasn’t another car on the outside of him. Once he started hitting me, he didn’t lift and kept finishing me off. Ruined our day. We had a top 5 for sure coming our way.”
The race was disastrous for Hendrick Motorsports Chase Elliott. Elliott entered the race in 6th place in the NASCAR playoffs, blew an engine early in the first practice, started from the rear of the field and worked his way into the top 10 after the races first stage.
Leaving the pits following the ensuing pit stop, Elliott’s No. 9 Chevrolet suffered a mechanical failure in the rear end, sending him to the garage. Elliott returned to the race 52-laps down and finished 36th. Elliott now sits in the 8th and last place of all the playoff drivers with two races remaining in this round.
The next race in the round of 8 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs is next Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.
Denny Hamlin And Kevin Harvick Score NASCAR Cup Wins At Pocono Doubleheader
LONG POND, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Denny Hamlin won Sunday’s Pocono 350, the second race of the NASCAR Cup Series Doubleheader Weekend at Pocono Raceway.
Hamlin beat Kevin Harvick by 3.068-seconds to pick up his fourth victory of 2020 and 41st of his Cup Series career. Hamlin is now tied with NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon for the most wins all-time at “The Tricky Triangle” with six.
“It’s awesome,” said Hamlin. “I think that’s the most wins I’ve got at any track now. It’s hard to believe because we went through such a dry spell there kind of the middle of my career. We’re doing a great job right now. Like I say, I hate to feel disappointed in a second and first. Man, I really feel like we should have won both races. Just didn’t work out.”
Harvick won Saturday’s race, taking two tires on the final pit stop to grab the checkered flag from a track where he had never won.
“Everybody from Stewart-Haas Racing has done a great job,” said Harvick. “We’ve had really fast cars every time we’ve come to Pocono, just hadn’t got to Victory Lane.”
The NASCAR Cup Series next event is the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a doubleheader with the NTT IndyCar Series.
Ryan Blaney Edges Ricky Stenhouse To Win NASCAR Cup Race At Talladega
TALLADEGA, AL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney picked up his first win of the season beating Ricky Stenhouse Jr. by a bumper at the rain-delayed Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Blaney and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Erik Jones made contact on the front stretch, sending Jones into the outside wall as Blaney headed towards the checkered flag.
Inside of Blaney however was JTG Daugherty’s Stenhouse, who was leading hard charge of cars on the inside lane. The pair crossed the Start/Finish line with Blaney prevailing by 0.007-seconds in a photo-finish.
“I just kind of blocked, just trying to block the best we could,” said Blaney. “The 20 got to my outside and I tried to go up there to slow him down, I hate that I hit him, but just kind of trying to beat and bang to the line and things like that. We just edged it out, but I am really proud of this whole Menards/Sylvania Ford Mustang team.”
Stenhouse finished second and said he did all he could to get to the front.
“The 20 had a good run,” said Stenhouse. “Then they started banging fenders, slowing each other down. I just kept on the throttle, was able to get close to the nose of the 12 there coming across the line. All in all it was a solid day for us.”
Stewart Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola finished third with his rear bumper crossing the Start/Finish line first as he was caught up in the Jones accident.
Denny Hamlin finished fourth followed by Jones who after hitting the wall crossed the line in fifth.
Prior to the race drivers and crew members surrounded Bubba Wallace’s No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet and pushed it to the front of the starting grid in a show of support after a noose was found in the RPM garage area on Sunday.
NASCAR President Steve Phelps said the FBI is investigating and that whoever is responsible for the action will be suspended for life from NASCAR.
Chip Ganassi Condemns Noose Incident At Talladega
PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Pittsburgh’s Chip Ganassi is condemning Sunday’s noose incident at Talladega Superspeedway.
Ganassi, who fields the No. 1 Monster Energy/Gearwrench Camaro driven by Kurt Busch and the No. 42 Credit One Bank/McDonald’s Chevrolet driven by Matt Kenseth in the NASCAR Cup Series, called the incident “horrific and completely reprehensible” and said now is the time to “rid NASCAR, and all sports, of these ignorant attitudes”.
Ganassi took to his Twitter feed to share those feelings. Here’s the tweet:
“What happened yesterday in the garage in Talladega is horrific and completely reprehensible. Now more than ever is the time for everyone in the sport to rid NASCAR, and all sports, of these ignorant attitudes”
— Chip Ganassi (@GanassiChip) June 22, 2020
Ganassi had to do exactly what he tweeted about when he fired former driver Kyle Larson, who uttered a racial slur in an online racing event.
Ganassi’s team also showed their support for driver Bubba Wallace and his Richard Petty Motorsports team. The noose was found in the RPM teams garage.
— Chip Ganassi Racing (@CGRTeams) June 22, 2020
Ganassi has been a long-time believer of diversity and gender equality in his race teams, which in addition to the NASCAR Cup Series, includes 3-cars in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and an upcoming entry in Extreme E in 2021.