The Washington Post Sunday

Truex leads Joe Gibbs Racing team to 1-2-3 finish

- BY HANK KURZ JR.

richmond — Martin Truex Jr. assumed the lead when Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch was penalized for speeding with about 50 laps to go Saturday night and won the NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond Raceway.

The victory was the third for Truex in the past five races at Richmond. He got the lead when Busch was caught speeding entering pit road during green flag pit stops, causing him to relinquish a big lead and fall back to 10th.

Truex led a one-two-three finish for Joe Gibbs Racing, with Denny Hamlin finishing second and Christophe­r Bell third.

And Truex did it after being black-flagged on the first lap for beating Hamlin, the pole sitter, to the start-finish line for the start of the race.

“That was frustratin­g, I’m not going to lie, but I knew we had a good enough car to overcome it,” Truex said about the penalty.

The finish marked the sixth time JGR cars swept the top three spots.

“We needed just a couple more laps. That’s all,” Hamlin said.

The penalty sent Truex to the back of the field, but as he has done repeatedly since ending an 80-race winless drought on tracks shorter than a mile at the start of his career, he masterfull­y worked his way back into contention. Defending series champion Chase Elliott was fourth, followed by Joey Logano and points leader Kyle Larson, who started the race at the back of the field after twice failing prerace inspection.

Larson did, however, manage to clinch his spot in the second round of the playoffs, which start after one more race.

Hamlin, as he did in the spring here, won both stages and led the most laps — 207 in the spring, 197 in this race — but failed to follow his victory last weekend with another on the track about 20 miles from where he grew up.

William Byron and Michael McDowell are both struggling in the playoff.

Byron finished 34th last week at Darlington Raceway and 19th at Richmond. McDowell finish 37th — last — last week and had three speeding penalties and finished 29th at Richmond. The third penalty came while he was serving the second.

llXFINITY SERIES: Noah Gragson held on to the lead after a restart with seven laps to go and held off Justin Haley on Saturday at Richmond to win his second consecutiv­e race in the secondtier circuit.

Haley held on for second, followed by John Hunter Nemechek, Gragson teammate Justin Allgaier and Riley Herbst with just one race left before the 10-race playoff begins.

 ?? STEVE HELBER/ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Starting from the back of the field, Martin Truex Jr. worked his way to the front and took the victory Saturday night in Richmond.
STEVE HELBER/ASSOCIATED PRESS Starting from the back of the field, Martin Truex Jr. worked his way to the front and took the victory Saturday night in Richmond.

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