Truex ends 2020 win­less skid

Martinsvil­le caps stretch of fan-less Cup Se­ries races

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - MARKETPLAC­E -

MARTINSVIL­LE — Martin Truex Jr. used a trip to NASCAR’s short­est track to end a lengthy los­ing streak on the day the stock car se­ries at long last banned the Con­fed­er­ate flag.

Truex cruised down the stretch and won his first NASCAR Cup race of the sea­son on Wed­nes­day night in the first race un­der the lights at Martinsvil­le Speed­way.

Truex, the 2017 Cup cham­pion, has been one of NASCAR’s big­gest win­ners over the last three years, but failed to find vic­tory lane for Joe Gibbs Rac­ing over the first 10 races of this sea­son. He won 19 times from 2017-2019.

“I knew we were go­ing to get one soon,” Truex said. “Hope­fully we can get on a roll.”

Tick tock. The time ran out on the los­ing streak.

Truex won the Martinsvil­le grand­fa­ther clock on the pa­per­clip-shaped track at just 0.526 miles. He won for the first time with new crew chief James Small.

“It’s huge for him and his con­fi­dence and for the way peo­ple look at him,” Truex said. “I think it’s huge. I knew all along that he was ca­pa­ble, I know he’s go­ing to be an amaz­ing crew chief for a long time to come.”

Ryan Blaney, Brad Ke­selowski, who has two wins this sea­son, and Joey Logano made it a 2-3-4 fin­ish for Team Penske.

The race started shortly af­ter NASCAR said the Con­fed­er­ate flag would be be pro­hib­ited from all NASCAR events and prop­er­ties.

The is­sue was pushed to the fore this week by Bubba Wal­lace, NASCAR’s lone black driver and an Alabama na­tive who called for the ban­ish­ment of the Con­fed­er­ate flag and said there was “no place” for it in the sport. Wal­lace drove the Richard Petty Motorsport­s’ No. 43 Chevro­let

DIXIE VODKA 400 NASCAR Cup Se­ries

3:30 p.m. Fox

Homestead, Fla. with a #Black­LivesMat­ter paint scheme. Wal­lace, wear­ing an Amer­i­can flag mask, clapped his hands when asked about the de­ci­sion be­fore the start of the race.

“It’s been a stress­ful cou­ple of weeks,” Wal­lace said on FS1. “This is no doubt the big­gest race of my ca­reer tonight. I’m ex­cited about tonight. There’s a lot of emo­tions on the race track.”

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

“Our Black Lives Mat­ter Chevro­let — that’s so good to say, right — was so good on the long runs,” Wal­lace said.

Martinsvil­le capped a stretch of seven straight

Cup races since it re­sumed with­out fans at the track. That streak ends Sun­day when 1,000 Florida ser­vice mem­bers, rep­re­sent­ing the Homestead Air Re­serve Base and U.S. South­ern Com­mand in Do­ral, are al­lowed to at­tend the Cup race at Homestead-Mi­ami Speed­way as hon­orary guests and view the race from the grand­stands.

The fol­low­ing week at Tal­ladega Su­per­speed­way, up to 5,000 fans will be al­lowed to at­tend the race. NASCAR says all fans will be screened be­fore en­ter­ing, re­quired to wear face cov­er­ings, man­dated to so­cial dis­tance at six feet and will not have ac­cess to the in­field.

“I want to say hi to all the fans at home, we def­i­nitely miss you,” Truex said. “This just doesn’t feel right, but ex­cit­ing to win for sure.”

Austin Dil­lon, the 2018 Day­tona 500 cham­pion, was helped from the car be­cause of over­heat­ing af­ter the crush pan­els in his No. 3 Chevro­let were dam­aged

RICH­MOND TIMES-DIS­PATCH ear­lier in the race. Dil­lon’s wife is ex­pect­ing their first child any day now.

“I don’t know if I got dizzy or what,” Dil­lon said. “I just pulled in, had to stop, and thank all the med­i­cal staff that got me back.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHO­TOS

Martin Truex Jr. claimed his first Cup Se­ries vic­tory of the sea­son on Wed­nes­day night at Martinsvil­le Speed­way. It was also the 2017 cham­pion’s first win with new crew chief James Small, who was hired be­fore the sea­son.

Sun­day: Where: TV:

Truex Jr.

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