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Davidson: Truex wins rain-delayed Martinsville Cup race

Martinsville, Va, Apr 11/21 (by John Davidson): Martin Truex drove a patient race with great pit stops from his crew to take his third victory at Martinsville, having driven away from Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin, in a dominant race for Joe Gibbs Racing. "Coach's" teams led 300 laps, plus the laps led by Bubba Wallace in the (JGR satellite) car owned by Hamlin. The win was Truex' 29th career victory and made him the first double-winner of the 2021 season.

"It was pretty incredible there at the end," said Truex. "The Bass Pro Toyota – James (Small, crew chief) and the guys really hung with me all day. We never could get quite where we wanted it. It started getting dark and she came to life. ... I can't believe we won here again after not having the dominant car here today for sure. That was a lot of fun there racing at the end with Denny (Hamlin). We raced clean and we were able to come out on top.

"It's definitely difficult [racing a teammate for a win.] We try to race hard, race clean. He was making it difficult on me. I was loose coming off of the corners and his car got tight, so we kind of had opposite things going on and it made it difficult to pass, but we played nice and Coach will be happy. It will be a cordial meeting tomorrow."

The Saturday scheduled start was thrown off by rain. Following a weather delay of two and a half hours, engines started for the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway and 500 laps on the oldest track in NASCAR Cup racing. Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin led in the front row, followed by William Byron and Ryan Blaney. While the track was dry, it still took almost 15 minutes to get pit road less than soaked.

Logano led the first laps and William Byron grabbed second for about 25 laps before starting to drop back and Hamlin took the lead from Logano.

After 36 laps of racing, James Davison's spin brought out the first caution of the night, sending the lead lap cars to a still-wet pit road for new tires. Hamlin led the field back onto the track, followed by Logano, Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr and Chase Elliott. Before the green flag could come out, rain started

"It went off the deep end pretty quick," said Logano while waiting out the delay.

Sunday afternoon's Act Two of the Martinsville race ran under nearly perfect conditions for cars, drivers and spectators, with clear skies and temperatures in the mid-70s.

Thanks to numerous cautions and one red flag for a fifteen-car crash on the back straight, the race ended under the lights. Another red flag came out with 113 laps remaining when a major crash broke out on the back straight involving at least a dozen cars and taking several out of the event.

One of the eliminated cars was Alex Bowman: "I hate it. I feel like we had a car capable of winning, which says a lot because I drive this place completely wrong. I'm so bad here. Greg (Ives, Crew Chief), everybody on this No. 48 team have their work cut out for them to make a car work for me and they did that this week. It was phenomenal; couldn't ask anything more of it, but not much to show for it."

Daniel Suarez was another car eliminated: "In that wreck, there wasn't really anything I could do. I was trying to slam on the brakes to try to slow down, but it was a parking lot in there. I couldn't do anything about it. The No. 24 car (William Byron) put us in that position; he pushed me out of the way. I had a few laps older tires than everyone else.

"But overall, we have to keep working. This weekend, overall, wasn't great. We came from the back several times. We had a fast car, but we made bad adjustments. It just wasn't a clean weekend."

Brad Keselowski was one of the drivers involved in the big crash: "It's just unfortunate that we got caught up in it. It looked like some guys got in front of me and the track was blocked. I think I was just barely gonna get stopped in time and somebody clobbered me from behind and just tore us up. It's a bummer. I think we were really good. We drove up into the top five and lost the power-steering. I was able to manhandle it around the racetrack, but I couldn't get down pit road where you go to turn in your pit box. Every pit stop, it wasn't my crew's fault, I just couldn't get the car stopped in the box and pointed the right way. That kind of got me in the back, and then I got dumped. We recovered from that and then we got caught up in a wreck that we just didn't look like I could miss. Just one of those compounding, frustrating short track days, but we had decent speed. We just have to figure out why we lost the power-steering that kind of put us behind."

• Click HERE for the Cumulative Race Report
• Click HERE for the Race Results

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