Monday, October 28, 2019


Martin Truex Jr. dominated Sunday’s First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway locking himself into the Championship 4. The Mayetta, New Jersey native won every stage of the event and led 464 laps. Most importantly, the 2017 champion will be appearing in the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the fourth time in his career.

“I can’t believe we just won Martinsville, man,” Truex said after his win at Martinsville. “Miami (site of the season finale) is awesome, but we’ve wanted to win here for a long time.”

William Byron finished .489 seconds behind what could have been his first victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Although the non-playoff driver did not lead any laps, he ran well in the top-10 all day and showed during the conclusion of the race that he may have had the second-best car.

“He was really strong,” said Byron, who was referring to Truex’s domination. “I could work my brake bias a little bit in the car and gain a little bit, and then I’d get to him and I’d heat up a lot and then kind of fall back. I don’t really know. He was super strong. Our car bounced a little bit in the short run, which was tough to kind of get around. But overall, it was a really good day.”

Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott started off the day looking strong. Suffering a broken axle while leaving pit road on Lap 179, Elliott began in the rear of the field due to an engine change earlier that weekend. He drove the No. 9 Mountain Dew Chevy Camaro to the top-10 before the mechanical issue.

“Just disappointing for a day like that,” Elliott said. “We know better, and we can do better than that.”

Playoff contenders Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin had a post-race scuffle at the end. On Lap 458, both were coming off of Turn 4 and Logano was pushed up against the wall by Hamlin. The No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang suffered right-side damage resulting in a cut tire.

"I just wanted to talk to him about [the on-track incident]. I was pretty frustrated. He kind of came off the corner like he didn't have a car on the outside of him. It ruined our day. We had a shot at the win for sure," Logano said.

After spinning on Lap 460, Logano was able to finish in 8th while Hamlin brought home his No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry in the fourth position. The second Team Penske driver in the playoffs is Ryan Blaney, who had a strong car all day and finished in the sixth position.

Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kevin Harvick didn’t have the speed many expected him to have at the Virginia short track. Placing outside of the top-10 in the first two stages, Harvick was able to top that off with a seventh-place finish.

Another driver that struggled the majority of the race was Kyle Larson. Larson raced most of the day in the top-20 but at the end of Stage 2 crew chief Chad Johnston decided to have him not pit during the caution and placed second at the end of the segment. He ultimately finished ninth but sits outside the top-four 15 points behind the cutline.

The other Kyle in the field finished in the 14th position. Kyle Busch was battling Aric Almirola in the top-10 on Lap 361 when they both got into each other in different corners. Almirola displayed his frustration after the race while Busch was also upset about how the event turned out.

"We've got three more weeks, and I'm going to make it hell for him," Almirola said postrace.

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the AAA Texas 500 on Sunday, Nov. 3 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. It is the eighth race of the 10-race playoffs and the second race in the Round of 8. It starts at 3 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Here are the standings going into Texas: