Martin Truex Jr. Dominates at Martinsville Speedway - First Data 500
MARTINSVILLE, VA – RIS – Martin Truex, Jr. won the First Data 500 for his 26th victory in 510 races with a dominating performance by leading twice for a total of 464 laps that included the final 241 laps. This is Martin’s seventh victory and 21st top ten finish in the 2019 season. Truex Jr. leads the points standings by 20 points over Denny Hamlin
William Byron had a strong race and finished 0.37 seconds behind Truex Jr. for second place. This was Byron’s 13th top ten finish in 2019. Rounding out the top five were Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney. Daniel Hemric finished 17th to be the highest finishing rookie.
The historic half mile paper clip shaped track had the expected cautions found during short track racing. There were 11 cautions for a total of 69 laps. Two of the cautions were for the conclusion of stages 1 and 2.
Denny Hamlin started from the pole position and led laps 1 through 30. On lap 28, the first caution flew for debris on the front stretch. Hamlin and the majority of the field pitted at this point. Martin Truex, Jr. was first onto the track after pit stops followed by Ryan Blaney. Hamlin came in with the lead but the stop was slowed when the jack had to be pumped more to change one of the tires.
Truex, Jr. led the remainder of the laps in stage one when the caution flew to end the stage. The top five drivers at the end of stage one were Truex Jr., Hamlin, Blaney, Clint Bowyer and Joey Logano. Under green flag conditions, the #88 of Alex Bowman had to pit around lap 150 for a loose wheel.
Truex Jr. was still leading the field when caution #3 flew after #13 Ty Dillon spun to the inside wall of the front stretch after he turned left across the nose of #8 Daniel Hemric. After pit stops, the #9 of Chase Elliott reportedly broke an axle on take off. After falling 10 or 11 laps down, his car was taken to the garage for further diagnosis and repairs. He re-entered the race 56 laps down and in last place at that time. Chase finished the race 55 laps down in 36th position.
Clint Bowyer was running in the top five when he encountered a misdiagnosed problem. The #14 pitted under green to change left side tires thinking that one was flat. No, it was a flat right rear tire that was flat. The tire disintegrated when he returned to the track and brought out a fourth caution for the debris on the track. Kyle Larson’s crew gambled with a strategy call and didn’t pit during the caution. On the restart, the order was Larson, Truex Jr., Blaney, Logano and Aric Almirola. Truex Jr. did pass for the lead but Larson finished the second stage in second place and gained play off points. Caution five was for the end of stage 2. Larson pitted at this time for four tires, gas and adjustments. His was the only lead lap car to pit.
Martin Truex Jr. took the lead on lap 260 and led until the checkered flag flew on lap 500. He did have to survive and avoid other crashes and spins during the remainder of the race.
Caution #6 was for debris in turn 2 from a flat tire and damage on the #3 of Austin Dillon. The restart order was Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, William Byron, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch. Caution seven was for the big one for a short track. Aric Almirola and Kyle Busch had contact on the front stretch which then caught up Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Preece (#47) and Matt DiBenedetto. Almirola was the only one that had to retire to the garage. Six laps later, caution eight flew when #41 Daniel Suarez and #88 Alex Bowman had contact on the front stretch due to tires that were damaged during the previous caution. Bubba Wallace in the #43 also had smoking tires from body contact, but he was saved by the caution.
The running order after caution eight was Truex Jr., Blaney, Byron, Hamlin and Logano. Brad Keselowski had worked his way into sixth.
Clint Bowyer was the next driver to fall victim to a flat tire when his right rear tire went down in turn 3. This resulted in caution nine.
Caution ten contributed to post race excitement between Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin. Logano’s car spun in turn two due to contact with Denny Hamlin and the outside wall on the front stretch. More on this later.
With 35 laps to go, Truex Jr. led Byron, Blaney and Hamlin led the field.
The final caution (#11) flew for laps 473 -476 due to #8 Daniel Hemric and #34 Michael McDowell having contact in turn four.
With the field tightened up again for what turned out to be the final restart, Byron had another shot at Truex Jr. With five to go, Truex Jr. and Byron had put some distance between third and fourth place tandem of Keselowski, and Hamlin followed by the trio of Blaney, Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick.
The remaining five laps kept the same order on the track with Truex Jr. crossing the finish line in the same dominating position that he had for the majority of the race.
Post race, Truex Jr. was ignored for a while as Denny Hamlin came to the pit area of Joey Logano where a “heated” discussion started and was then rekindled when Logano gave a slight shove to Logano and he was walking away. They were called to the NASCAR hauler and perhaps we shall hear one day about this time with the officials.
Unofficial Results: 71st Annual First Data 500 - October 27, 2019; Martinsville Speedway - Martinsville, VA - 0.526 - Mile Paved
Fin, St, Driver, Car, Laps, St1, St2, Tms Led, Laps Led, Playoff Pts, Pts, Status
1) 3, Martin Truex Jr (P), No. 19 Auto Owners Insurance Toyota, 500, 1, 1, 2, 464, 7, 60, Running
2) 11, William Byron, No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet, 500, 6, 6, , , , 45, Running
3) 15, Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford, 500, , 10, , , , 35, Running
4) 1, Denny Hamlin (P), No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota, 500, 2, 8, 1, 30, , 45, Running
5) 6, Ryan Blaney (P), No. 12 Menards/Richmond Ford, 500, 3, 3, , , , 48, Running
6) 25, Kurt Busch, No. 1 Global Poker Chevrolet, 500, , , , , , 31, Running
7) 22, Kevin Harvick (P), No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford, 500, , , , , , 30, Running
8) 10, Joey Logano (P), No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, 500, 5, 4, , , , 42, Running
9) 14, Kyle Larson (P), No. 42 Clover Chevrolet, 500, , 2, 1, 6, , 37, Running
10) 35, Ryan Newman, No. 6 Blue Bird Ford, 500, , , , , , 27, Running
11) 17, David Ragan, No. 38 MDS Transport Ford, 500, , , , , , 26, Running
12) 20, Chris Buescher, No. 37 Clorox Chevrolet, 500, , , , , , 25, Running
13) 26, Bubba Wallace, No. 43 Victory Junction Chevrolet, 500, , , , , , 24, Running
14) 13, Kyle Busch (P), No. 18 M&M's Halloween Toyota, 500, 9, 7, , , , 29, Running
15) 16, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, No. 17 Fifth Third Bank Ford, 500, , , , , , 22, Running
16) 12, Matt DiBenedetto, No. 95 Toyota Express Maintenance Toyota, 500, , , , , , 21, Running
17) 18, Daniel Hemric #, No. 8 Chevrolet Accessories Chevrolet, 500, , , , , , 20, Running
18) 36, Corey LaJoie, No. 32 CorvetteParts.net Ford, 500, , , , , , 19, Running
19) 21, Ryan Preece #, No. 47 Kroger Chevrolet, 500, , , , , , 18, Running
20) 8, Erik Jones, No. 20 Craftsman Toyota, 499, , 9, , , , 19, Running
21) 28, Paul Menard, No. 21 Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford, 499, , , , , , 16, Running
22) 23, Austin Dillon, No. 3 American Ethanol Chevrolet, 499, , , , , , 15, Running
23) 5, Michael McDowell, No. 34 A&W All American Foods Ford, 499, , , , , , 14, Running
24) 27, Ty Dillon, No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet, 498, , , , , , 13, Running
25) 29, Matt Crafton(i), No. 36 Surface Sunscreen/Tunity Ford, 495, , , , , , 0, Running
26) 30, Landon Cassill(i), No. 00 Sea Deck/Units Chevrolet, 495, , , , , , 0, Running
27) 38, BJ McLeod(i), No. 51 JACOB COMPANIES Chevrolet, 494, , , , , , 0, Running
28) 32, * JJ Yeley(i), No. 53 GOTTA KILL IT TO HEAL IT Chevrolet, 494, , , , , , 0, Running
29) 33, Ross Chastain(i), No. 15 VIPRacingExperience.com Chevrolet, 494, , , , , , 0, Running
30) 19, Alex Bowman, No. 88 Llumar Chevrolet, 494, , , , , , 7, Running
31) 9, Daniel Suarez, No. 41 Haas Automation Ford, 488, 10, , , , , 7, Running
32) 34, Garrett Smithley(i), No. 52 RICH MAR FLORIST.COM Chevrolet, 487, , , , , , 0, Running
33) 31, * Reed Sorenson, No. 27 VIPRacingExperience.com Chevrolet, 452, , , , , , 4, Rear Gear
34) 37, Timmy Hill(i), No. 77 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet, 450, , , , , , 0, Transmission
35) 7, Clint Bowyer, No. 14 BlueDEF Ford, 449, 4, , , , , 9, Track Bar
36) 2, Chase Elliott (P), No. 9 Mountain Dew Chevrolet, 445, 8, , , , , 4, Running
37) 4, Aric Almirola, No. 10 Smithfield Ford, 363, 7, 5, , , , 11, Accident
38) 24, Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Ally Chevrolet, 361, , , , , , 1, Accident
(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series, (#) Rookie, (P) Playoffs qualified
Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 29 Mins, 9 Secs
Race Length: 500 Laps - 263. Miles
Average Speed: 75.448 MPH
Margin of Victory: 0.373 Seconds
Stage 1 Top 10: 19, 11, 12, 14, 22, 24, 10, 9, 18, 41
Stage 2 Top 10: 19, 42, 12, 22, 10, 24, 18, 11, 20,
Race Comments: Martin Truex Jr. won the 71st Annual First Data 500, his 26th victory in 510 Monster Energy Cup Series races.
Prior to the start of the race: the following cars dropped to the rear of the field for the reasons indicated:
No. 6 (failed post-qualifying inspection),
No. 9 (engine change),
No. 32 (failed post-qualifying inspection),
No. 51 (failed post-qualifying inspection),
No. 77 (failed post-qualifying inspection).
Caution Flags: 11 for 69 laps;
Laps: 29-34 (Debris on the frontstretch );
132-139 (Stage 1 Conclusion );
179-184 (No. 13 spin on the frontstretch );
253-257 (Debris Turn 1 );
262-268 (Stage 2 Conclusion );
347-352 (Debris in Turn 2 );
363-372 (No. 10, No. 18, No. 47 and No. 48 incident on the frontstretch );
378-382 (No. 41, No. 88 incident on the frontstretch );
450-455 (No. 14 spin Turn 3 );
460-465 (No. 22 spin Turn 1 );
473-476 (No. 8, No. 34 incident Turn 4 [None]).
Lead Changes: 3 among 3 drivers;
D. Hamlin (P) 0;
D. Hamlin (P) 1-30;
M. Truex Jr (P) 31-253;
K. Larson (P) 254-259;
M. Truex Jr (P) 260-500.
American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award: Martin Truex Jr, No. 19
Busch Pole Award: Denny Hamlin, No. 11 97.84 mph
Fastest Lap: Denny Hamlin, No. 11
Go the Extra Mile: David Ragan, No. 38 crew chief Mike Kelley, 0.141 seconds
Sunoco Rookie of the Race: Daniel Hemric, No. 8
The next race will be November 3, 2019 at Texas Motor Speedway where we will see how the race for the Cup continues.
Ed Turner - RIS
Staff Writer and editor for RIS since 2001. Been attending NASCAR and stock car races since my dad starting taking me in 1960 at the age of 5.