Martin Truex Jr. dominates late to win NASCAR Cup race at Martinsville

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MARTINSVILLE, Virginia – Martin Truex Jr. walked the stretch and won his first NASCAR Cup race of the season Wednesday night in the first Cup race held under the lights at Martinsville Speedway, the oldest site in the series.Truex, the 2017 Cup champion, has been one of NASCAR’s biggest winners in the past three years, but has failed to find a winning path for Joe Gibbs Racing in the first 10 races of this season. season. He won 19 times from 2017 to 2019.

“I knew we were going to get one soon,” said Truex. “I hope we can get started. ”

TIC Tac. Time has passed on the losing streak.

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Truex won the Martinsville grandfather clock on the paperclip track, which is only 0.526 miles long. He triumphed for the first time with new team leader Jason Small.

“It’s huge for him and his confidence and the way people look at him,” Truex said of Small. “I think it’s huge. I knew from the start that he was capable, I know that he is going to be an incredible team leader for a long time. ”

Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski – who has two wins this season – and Joey Logano finished 2-3-4 for Team Penske.

The race started shortly after NASCAR issued a ban on the Confederate flag, stating, “It will be banned from all NASCAR events and properties. ”

The issue was brought to the fore this week by Bubba Wallace, the only black NASCAR driver from Alabama who called for the banning of the Confederate flag and said there was “no place” for it. in the sport. Wallace drove Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet # 43 with a #BlackLivesMatter paint scheme. Wallace, wearing an American flag mask, clapped his hands when asked about the decision before the race started.

“It’s been a couple of stressful weeks,” said Wallace on Fox Sports 1. “It was without a doubt the biggest race of my career tonight. I’m excited about tonight. There are a lot of emotions on the circuit. ”

Wallace wore a black “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirt but did not kneel during the national anthem. His Chevy wore “Compassion, Love, Understanding” on the hood. He finished 11th in Martinsville.

“Our Chevrolet Black Lives Matter – that’s so good to say, isn’t it – was so good on long runs,” said Wallace.

Wallace, 26, who finished second in the 2018 Daytona 500, has also gained new fame. Already outspoken about social causes in NASCAR, Wallace denounced the flag and his message has spread throughout the sport. Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James tweeted “BIG N / A” to Wallace, and retired NFL star Deion Sanders tweeted that he was proud that NASCAR “recognized the sensitivity of our country in the face of racial injustices ”.

Martin Truex Jr. celebrates with the grandfather clock that goes to the winner of the NASCAR Cup races at Martinsville Speedway. It was his first win of the season and his second straight Martinsville since last season. AP Photo / Steve Helber

Wallace even made new NASCAR fans – for one night, at least – with other athletes. New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara responded to NASCAR’s statement with a tweet asking “when is the next race ??” With a popcorn emoji. He followed on social media, as did the security of the Carolina Panthers, Tre Boston. Boston tweeted questions about the race and seemed to enjoy the action at Martinsville: “Are you all pinned on TV. I look at the position more than the pilots I feel. Is it correct? Am i doing well you all flip channels? ”

Former NFL security member Bernard Pollard Jr. joined the social media campaign and answered a question about the warnings during the broadcast of FS1.

But the NASCAR move angered a contingent of flag loyalists, who simmered on social media. NASCAR helmet artist Jason Beam, who paints designs for some of the sport’s biggest stars, has been among the loudest critics. He started a series of tweets exploding the movement, writing, “You can’t erase the story by choosing and choosing which parts you want to keep and which you don’t want to keep. ”

Actress Reese Witherspoon gave the decision an emoji of five on Twitter, and that alone could be enough to outweigh the enemies.

Martinsville has crowned a stretch of seven consecutive Cup races since the streak resumed without fans on the track in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

This streak will end on Sunday, when 1,000 Florida service members, representing the Homestead Air Reserve Base and US Southern Command at Doral, are allowed to attend the Cup race at Homestead-Miami Speedway as ‘guests of honor and watch the race from the stands. The following week, at Talladega Superspeedway, Alabama, up to 5,000 fans will be allowed to attend the race. NASCAR has stated that all fans will be screened before entering, forced to wear face shields and mandated at a social distance of 6 feet, and that they will not have access to the indoor field.

“I want to say hello to all the fans at home, we will definitely miss you,” said Truex. “It doesn’t seem fair to me, but it’s exciting to win for sure. ”

Austin Dillon, the 2018 Daytona 500 champion, was helped by his car due to overheating after the crash panels of his No. 3 Chevrolet were damaged earlier in the race. Dillon’s wife is now expecting her first child.

“I don’t know if I’m dizzy or what,” said Dillon. “I just stopped, I had to stop and thank all the medical staff who brought me back [feeling better]. ”

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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