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Martin Truex Jr. Wins Martinsville, Punches Ticket To Championship

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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.

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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