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Martin Truex Jr. Wins Martinsville, Punches Ticket To Championship

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Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

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.

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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.

“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.

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NASCAR

Kevin Harvick wins NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan

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Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images

BROOKLYN, MI (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Kevin Harvick’s two-year winless streak is over after ‘The Closer’ won Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Firekeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Harvick beat 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace by 2.9-seconds to become playoff eligible and said the key was getting out front on the final restart.

“The last restart I had the 5 (Kyle Larson) behind me, and I knew I didn’t need to let the 23 (Wallace) up,” explained Harvick. “I knew I needed to drive it in the corner far enough, but the 5 had given me such a good push. I had a car length, and I think Bubba got about up to my door. I knew that if we could just get off of turn 2, we would have a chance.”

As the pair raced off turn 2 Harvick started to get ahead and carried that momentum as Wallace and Kyle Larson battled for position.

“That’s what you want, right?” asked Harvick rhetorically. “To try to get away so they don’t have a draft and can make up that time quicker. 5 launched good. 5 gave us a good push, and the key was just clearing the 23 off of two and being able to go down the back straight-away by myself and not door to door and in a firestorm.”

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Wallace was disappointed to not get into victory lane with one of the fastest cars on track all weekend.

“I failed everybody,” said Wallace. “Took the top there on the restart. Thought I could hang with the 4, and just got to racing the 5 and the 22. Hate it for our team. It sucks.”

Wallace’s team owner Denny Hamlin raced home to third with Team Penske teammates Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney rounding out the top 5.

Chase Elliott continues to sit atop the point standing and playoff standings.  Martin Truex sits on the outside of the 16-car playoff eligibility by 19-points.  Blaney sits in the final playoff spot.

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IndyCar

Racing Notebook: Pocono NASCAR Weekend approaching; INDYCAR in Toronto; PVGP hits the track and more

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Pocono Raceway

PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The Pittsburgh Racing Now Racing Notebook is jam-packed with NASCAR, INDYCAR,  and Vintage racing news:

Limited Tickets Remain for Pocono NASCAR Weekend:

  • Pocono Raceway’s NASCAR weekend is a little over a week away and if you want to go, get your tickets now!  Pocono announced on Thursday that a limited number of grandstand seats are the only options remaining for the marquee M&M’S® Fan Appreciation 400 NASCAR Cup Series race next Sunday, July 24. The remaining grandstand seats for the Cup Series race are at three price points ($45, $80 and $95) and scattered throughout the various sections of the main grandstand. The only RV camping option currently available is general admission for $250, which includes two guest passes and free admission for up to 4 children 12 and under. To purchase tickets or learn more, please visit poconoraceway.com or call 800-722-3929.
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INDYCAR Returns To Toronto:

  • The NTT INDYCAR SERIES returns to the Streets of Toronto for this weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto.  All eyes will be on Defending Series Champion Alex Palou, driver of the No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.  CGR announced on Tuesday afternoon they were exercising their option on Palou for 2023, only to have Palou announce on Social Media later that evening that he was not returning.  Moments after Palou’s announcement, McLaren Racing announced they signed Palou for 2023.  CGR has won seven times at Toronto, the most recent being Scott Dixon in 2018. Andretti Autosports Alexander Rossi was fastest in the first practice on Friday.  A second practice session takes place Saturday morning with three rounds of knockout-style qualifying taking place Saturday afternoon.  The race is Sunday at 3 p.m.

Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix at Pitt Race:

  • The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix hits the Pittsburgh International Race Complex in Wampum this weekend in a tune-up for next weekend’s race on the streets of Schenley Park. Since 2004, racers from all over the country have come to the 2.8-mile purpose-built track 40 miles northwest of Pittsburgh for fierce competition.  The ‘Black Tie and Tailpipes Gala’ took place last night at The Grand Concourse at Station Square.  For more information visit pvgp.org.
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NASCAR

Chase Elliott wins at Atlanta

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Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

HAMPTON, GA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chase Elliott held off a hard-charging Corey LaJoie to win Sunday’s NASCAR CUP SERIES Quaker State 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Elliott was leading taking the white flag when LaJoie got a run heading into Turn 1 forcing Elliott to move to the high side of the track and block LaJoie, who ended up hitting the wall and brining out the final caution flag, securing the win for Elliott.

“When you’re a kid and you’re racing on the quarter mile over there you look at this big track and it’s just out of reach, like not even real, just that your heroes are out there competing once or twice a year on this big track, and that’s just not real,” said Elliott of winning at his home track.  “To be here and to have a day like we had is really incredible, and certainly one I’m going to embrace and enjoy a lot.”

LaJoie, who had a strong car all day said he took his shot at the win.

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“I made my move and it didn’t work out, and the siren is ringing in Dawsonville unfortunately,’’ said LaJoie, referencing the Dawsonville Pool Room where a siren blares after any Elliott win.

Elliott won the races first two stages along with his third victory of the season, joining his Hall of Fame father Bill as the only Cup Drivers to win at the Atlanta oval.

“To see that many people up there and cheering and wearing the 9 hats and seeing the NAPA gear, you want to make those people proud,” said Elliott. “For me, I’m just grateful that the fans of this state have included me in part of the family of Georgia sports and kind of accepted our team as that, and I’m proud of that and glad we could do them good today.”

Ross Chastain finished second followed by Team Penske’s Austin Cindric in third, Petty GMS Racing’s Erik Jones in fourth and Penske’s Ryan Blaney in fifth.

The NASCAR Cup Series next race is at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH.

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