RICHMOND – Martin Truex Jr. took the lead when his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch was penalized for speeding with about 50 laps to go and won the NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond Raceway on Saturday night.
The victory was the third for Truex in the last five races at Richmond. He took the lead when Busch was caught entering the pit lane during green flag pitstops, which caused him to give up a big lead and fall back to 10th place.
Truex led a 1-2-3 for JGR – the sixth in its history – with Denny Hamlin finishing second and Christopher Bell third.
Truex won despite being black flagged in the first lap for beating Hamlin, the poleman, to the start-finish line for the start of the race.
“It was frustrating, I’m not going to lie, but I knew we had a good enough car to overcome it,” Truex said of the penalty.
His car sported red, white and blue paint as part of the one-day tribute to the victims and heroes of the 9/11 attacks 20 years ago.
“It’s an important day in our history and I think all of us here – yes we are proud to win and this car is amazing and there are so many people to thank but what a day to win,” said Truex in victory “It reminds you of the honor it is and the privilege it is to come here and do this.”
Hamlin reduced an 8 second deficit to 1.4 seconds, but ran out of time.
“We needed a few more laps. That’s all, ”Hamlin said.
Bell has won the 0.75 mile NASCAR Xfinity Series Oval three times.
“We knew coming into Richmond that this was one of our best circuits so we had to take advantage of it and get all the points we could,” he said.
Truex’s penalty sent him to the back of the field, but as he has done several times since the end of an 80-race winless drought on tracks less than a mile at the start of his career, he has masterfully regained the field.
The victory was his fourth of the season and the 31st of his career.
Defending series champion Chase Elliott was fourth, followed by Joey Logano and point leader Kyle Larson, who started the race at the back of the field after twice failing the pre-race inspection. . Larson finished sixth and clinched his spot in the second round of the playoffs, which begins after next weekend.
Hamlin, as he did in the spring here, won both stages and led the most laps – 207 in the spring, 197 in this race – but failed to keep up with his victory last weekend with another on the trail about 20 miles from where he grew up. .
TRIBUTE BEFORE THE RACE
Fans were given small American flags as they entered the track and were encouraged to stand up and wave them as a fire engine and two police SUVs, all with flashing lights, drove the vehicles pace during the pre-race parade laps.
As the tribute unfolded, a chant of “USA! UNITED STATES! ”Burst out in the stands.
Hamlin slashed Larson’s lead – from 34 to 24 – by 10 points with Truex 14 points more. They are the only three to have won the round of 12 places.
“Great to be able to do that and go to Bristol without any worries next week,” Truex said.
PROBLEMS IN playoffs
William Byron and Michael McDowell’s playoff experiences go wrong.
Byron was 34th last week at Darlington and 19th at Richmond. McDowell was 37th – last – last week and suffered three speeding penalties and was 29th in Richmond. The third penalty came while he was serving the second.
Byron is 15th in points, 116 behind, and McDowell is 136 behind.
The series concludes the first round of the playoffs and cuts the championship field from 16 to 12, on another short track with the annual Saturday night race around the high shores of Bristol Motor Speedway.
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