MARTINSVILLE, Va. (April 11, 2021) – Martin Truex Jr. passed Joe Gibbs Racing teammate and Virginia native Denny Hamlin on Lap 485 of Sunday’s rain-delayed Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway and pulled away to win for the third time in his last four starts at the .526-mile short track.
The victory was Truex’s second this season, ending a streak of seven straight different winners to start the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season. The driver of the No. 19 Toyota triumphed for the 29th time in his career and for the fifth time in his last 11-short track starts.
Truex finished 1.972 seconds ahead of runner-up Chase Elliott, who passed Hamlin for the second spot on Lap 495 of 500. Hamlin held third, 2.364 seconds behind, to post his seventh top-five finish (including four third-place results) in his eight starts this season.
“I can’t believe we won again here, after not having the dominant car today, for sure,” said Truex, who led for the first time when he beat Hamlin out of the pits on Lap 455 but surrendered the top spot to Hamlin’s short-run speed after a restart on Lap 459. “It was a lot of fun there at the end racing with Denny.”
To download images from the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500, click here.
“We raced clean, and we were able to come out on top. It’s definitely difficult. We try to race hard, race clean. He was making it difficult on me — I was loose coming off the corners. His car got tight, so we kind of had opposite things going on, and it made it difficult to pass. We played nice. (Team owner) Coach (Joe Gibbs) will be happy. It’ll be a cordial meeting tomorrow.”
In a race that produced 15 cautions for 102 laps, the 42-lap green-flag run to the finish proved Hamlin’s undoing. The driver No. 11 Toyota didn’t have the long-run speed to hold off his teammate.
“It’s just the cards we were dealt,” said Hamlin, who led 276 laps. “We had a really good short-run car. We just didn’t have a good long-run car. We just couldn’t get our car to turn in the long run. That was the bugaboo of it, I guess you could say.
“We had a really fast car for 20 laps or so, and then it would just kind of go away.”
Hendrick Motorsports teammates William Byron and Kyle Larson finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Joey Logano, Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch completed the top 10.
Ryan Blaney won the first and second stages and led 157 laps, but his No. 12 Team Penske Ford dragged an air hose out of the pit box on his final stop, earning a penalty that sent him to the back of the field for the Lap 459 restart. He fought back for an 11th-place finish.
“We’ve had an issue the last three times we’ve been here with a car to win, so that’s frustrating, but I’m real proud of the effort,” Blaney said. “I just wish we could close one out.”
A 15-car pileup worthy of a “Big One” at Talladega Superspeedway thinned the field of potential winners and blocked the track as effectively as the forlorn container ship stopped traffic in the Suez Canal. The melee started with side-to-side contact between the cars of Chris Buescher and Kyle Busch and collected a baker’s dozen of cars behind them—and setting the Chevrolets of Daniel Suarez and Ryan Preece on fire.
The wreck, which stopped the race under a red flag that lasted 21 minutes, 47 seconds, was the coup de grace for two-time Martinsville winner Brad Keselowski, who had sustained damage in two earlier accidents.
“It’s just unfortunate that we got caught up in it,” Keselowski said. “The track was blocked. I think I was just barely going to get stopped in time, and somebody clobbered me from behind and just tore us up. It’s a bummer. I think we were really good.”
“We drove up into the top five and lost the power-steering. I was able to manhandle it around the race track, but I couldn’t get down pit road where you go to turn in your pit box… Just one of those compounding, frustrating short-track days, but we had decent speed.”
The race was halted by rain after 42 laps on Saturday night and resumed under caution at 4 p.m. on Sunday.
With four Toyota Camry’s in the Top 10 at Martinsville Speedway, Toyota Racing looks ready for the Capital City as the NASCAR Cup Series heads across the Commonwealth of Virginia to Richmond Raceway for the Toyota Owners 400 on Sunday, April 18.
2021 NASCAR Season
NASCAR returns this fall as Martinsville Speedway hosts the penultimate races of the NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series seasons on Oct. 30-31. On Saturday, Oct. 30, Martinsville will host a doubleheader with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff race at 1:00 p.m. and the Dead On Tools 250 NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff race at 6:00 p.m. The NASCAR Cup Series’ Championship 4 will be set in the Xfinity 500 on Sunday, Oct. 31 at 2:00 p.m.
The ValleyStar Credit Union 300, the nation’s biggest, richest and most prestigious NASCAR Late Model Stock Car race, will return for an evening of intense competition on Sept. 25.
About Martinsville Speedway
Founded by H. Clay Earles in 1947, Martinsville Speedway is the only NASCAR track to host NASCAR Cup Series races every year since its inception in 1949. At .526 miles in length, the track annually hosts two NASCAR race weekends featuring the NASCAR Cup Series, along with the NASCAR Xfinity Series and/or NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Martinsville Speedway also annually hosts the ValleyStar Credit Union 300, the nation’s biggest, richest and most prestigious NASCAR Late Model Stock Car race. For more information about Martinsville Speedway, visit martinsvillespeedway.com.
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States and owner of 16 of the nation’s major motorsports entertainment facilities. NASCAR consists of three national series (NASCAR Cup Series™, NASCAR Xfinity Series™, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series™), four regional series (ARCA Menards Series, ARCA Menards Series East & West and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour), one local grassroots series (NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series) and three international series (NASCAR Pinty’s Series, NASCAR Peak Mexico Series, NASCAR Whelen Euro Series). The International Motor Sports Association™ (IMSA®) governs the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship™, the premier U.S. sports car series. NASCAR also owns Motor Racing Network, Racing Electronics, and ONE DAYTONA. Based in Daytona Beach, Florida, with offices in eight cities across North America, NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races in more than 30 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico and Europe. For more information visit www.NASCAR.comand www.IMSA.com, and follow NASCAR on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat (‘NASCAR’).
About NFI Consumer Products, Blue-Emu®
Nutrition & Fitness, Inc. (NFI Consumer Products) is an innovative consumer products company that manufactures, markets, and distributes the Blue-Emu® line of products for muscle, joint and skin conditions. Blue-Emu® products are made with real emu oil. In January of 2014, Gregory Pharmaceutical Holdings, Inc. purchased NFI Consumer Products and quickly capitalized on the Blue-Emu® following amongst consumers and expanded their advertising efforts to further accelerate the growth of the Blue-Emu® product line. In June 2014, Original Blue-Emu® Super Strength cream was recognized as the #1 selling over-the-counter muscle and joint cream in the United States. Under the leadership of CEO, Susan Gregory and guidance from EVP of Marketing, Benjamin Blessing, NFI has expanded the Blue-Emu® product line to include Blue-Emu® Continuous Pain Relief Spray, Blue-Emu® Maximum Arthritis Pain Relief Cream, and Lidocare and Blue-Emu® Pain Relief Patches. Today, NFI Consumer Products distributes the emu oil-based Blue-Emu® products throughout the United States, primarily through mass merchandisers, supermarkets and drug stores. The company currently distributes the Blue-Emu® product line through various retailers representing over 50,000 retail outlets. For more about Blue-Emu® by NFI, please visit www.blue-emu.com.