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Truex Heads to Bristol Free of Worry

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, September 12 2021

Martin Truex, Jr. won Saturday night’s Playoffs race at Richmond Raceway. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Martin Truex, Jr. intends to enjoy a one weekend of stress-free vacation. Next weekend.

Truex ended a 15-race winless streak on Saturday night when he won the Federated Auto Parts 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond Raceway in Virginia.

The victory in the second race of the Round of 16 in the Playoffs was Truex’s fourth of the season and secured him a berth in the Round of 12, which begins in two weeks.

“I knew there was a lot on the line tonight so I’m very happy to get to do this and go to Bristol next week without any worries,” Truex said.

Truex took the lead with 50 laps to go. From there his task was to stay out of trouble, avoid lapped traffic in order to protect an eight-second lead over Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin.

Hamlin made it interesting but Truex, who swept both 2019 races at the .75-mile Richmond oval, finished 1.4 seconds ahead of Hamlin.

“Just a couple more (laps), just a couple more,” Hamlin said. 

Virginia native Hamlin, who won a week ago at Darlington to secure his place in the Round of 12, led a race-best 197 laps.

“It’s go time now,” Hamlin said. “I really wish we would have gotten two in a row but regardless, still a great day for our team.”

A third JGR teammate, Christopher Bell, finished third.

“All of our Joe Gibb Racing cars were fast so hats off to everybody back at the shop,” Bell said. 

Chase Elliott, who also crashed out at Darlington, overcame a terrible pit stop about 183 laps into the 400-lapper, to finish fourth.

“Nice rebound after last week,” Elliott said. “Everything about Darlington was miserable. Everything about last weekend was miserable. Nice to come here and put together a solid night.”

Joey Logano of Team Penske finished fifth.

Kyle Busch of JGR, who crashed out a week ago and was the fined $50,000 for “actions detrimental to stock car racing” in the aftermath of that wreck, was leading with 55 laps to go. But on his final green-flag stop, he was penalized for speeding and fell back to 10th — the final spot on the led lap. He wound up ninth.

Kyle Larson didn’t get his sixth victory of the season but was able to secure a berth in the Round of 12 by way of points. He finished sixth.

Kurt Busch of Chip Ganassi Racing was the first Playoff driver to run into major trouble as he blew a tire and slammed the outside wall hard on Lap 41. Four laps earlier he had restarted the race after a competition with the lead. Busch had finished sixth in the Playoffs opener at Darlington the week before.

“Something happend on the left rear (tire). It let go,” Busch said. “And it let go of our points and it let go of our whole season right now.”

The series moves to Bristol Motor Speedway next Saturday night for the final race of the Playoffs opening Round of 16.

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NASCAR Cup Series Race – 64th Annual Federated Auto Parts 400

Richmond Raceway

Richmond, Virginia

Saturday, September 11, 2021

  1. (3)  Martin Truex Jr. (P), Toyota, 400.
  2. (2)  Denny Hamlin (P), Toyota, 400.
  3. (10)  Christopher Bell (P), Toyota, 400.
  4. (13)  Chase Elliott (P), Chevrolet, 400.
  5. (6)  Joey Logano (P), Ford, 400.
  6. (1)  Kyle Larson (P), Chevrolet, 400.
  7. (17)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 400.
  8. (5)  Kevin Harvick (P), Ford, 400.
  9. (15)  Kyle Busch (P), Toyota, 400.
  10. (8)  Ryan Blaney (P), Ford, 399.
  11. (19)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 399.
  12. (12)  Alex Bowman (P), Chevrolet, 399.
  13. (7)  Brad Keselowski (P), Ford, 399.
  14. (9)  Aric Almirola (P), Ford, 399.
  15. (11)  Tyler Reddick (P), Chevrolet, 398.
  16. (26)  Chase Briscoe #, Ford, 398.
  17. (22)  Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 398.
  18. (28)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 398.
  19. (14)  William Byron (P), Chevrolet, 398.
  20. (24)  Ryan Newman, Ford, 398.
  21. (31)  Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 398.
  22. (21)  Cole Custer, Ford, 397.
  23. (23)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 397.
  24. (18)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 396.
  25. (20)  Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 396.
  26. (30)  Anthony Alfredo #, Ford, 396.
  27. (29)  Justin Haley(i), Chevrolet, 396.
  28. (16)  Michael McDowell (P), Ford, 395.
  29. (25)  Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 395.
  30. (32)  BJ McLeod(i), Ford, 393.
  31. (36)  Garrett Smithley(i), Chevrolet, 389.
  32. (27)  Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 388.
  33. (34)  Joey Gase(i), Chevrolet, 387.
  34. (37)  JJ Yeley(i), Chevrolet, 386.
  35. (35)  Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 386.
  36. (33)  Josh Bilicki, Ford, 385.
  37. (4)  Kurt Busch (P), Chevrolet, Accident, 40.

 

Average Speed of Race Winner:  98.307 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 3 Mins, 6 Secs. Margin of Victory:  1.417 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  5 for 30 laps.

Lead Changes:  21 among 8 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   K. Larson (P) 0;D. Hamlin (P) 1-32;K. Busch (P) 33-36;D. Hamlin (P) 37-90;C. Elliott (P) 91-131;M. Truex Jr. (P) 132;K. Larson (P) 133-134;C. Bell (P) 135-137;D. Hamlin (P) 138-161;C. Elliott (P) 162-177;D. Hamlin (P) 178-179;C. Elliott (P) 180;K. Larson (P) 181-184;C. Bell (P) 185-186;D. Hamlin (P) 187-268;M. Truex Jr. (P) 269-296;C. Bell (P) 297-301;R. Chastain 302-305;K. Busch (P) 306-344;D. Hamlin (P) 345-347;K. Larson (P) 348-349;M. Truex Jr. (P) 350-400.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Denny Hamlin (P) 6 times for 197 laps; Martin Truex Jr. (P) 3 times for 80 laps; Chase Elliott (P) 3 times for 58 laps; Kyle Busch (P) 1 time for 39 laps; Christopher Bell (P) 3 times for 10 laps; Kyle Larson (P) 3 times for 8 laps; Kurt Busch (P) 1 time for 4 laps; Ross Chastain 1 time for 4 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 11,9,22,5,12,42,2,19,4,10

Stage #2 Top Ten: 11,18,19,5,22,20,42,10,48,4

 

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, September 12 2021
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