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Truex Looks Past Controversial Richmond Finish


Martin Truex Jr. during NASCAR Cup Series practice Saturday at Martinsville. (Photo: Wayne Riegle | The Podium Finish)

RIDGEWAY, Va. — A week removed from the controversial finish at Richmond Raceway, Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin are both ready to move on. But the two have different perspectives.

Truex, understandably, had frustration. He led 228 laps and dominated, taking the lead in Stage 2 and seemingly had the Toyota Owners 400 on lockdown. But with two laps to go, Bubba Wallace tagged Kyle Larson, sending him around and setting up a late-race restart.

The 43-year-old from Mayetta, New Jersey, came down pit road and had a small hangup on the rear, losing the lead to Hamlin. In NASCAR Overtime, Hamlin started rolling toward the green flag before the restart zone but never got called for a violation.

With six days to digest the finish, Truex is still adamant that Hamlin went too early and that a penalty should’ve been called.

“I think it’s clear as day. It’s not a question. If you go before the line, it’s a penalty,” Truex said in a media availability Saturday. “There’s no data in a football player to know — some things are questionable. There’s ball and strike calls — that case is not. It’s black and white. It’s a you can or you can’t call. I don’t really understand what the debate is about.”

Generally speaking, Hamlin agreed. He admitted that he probably went too early and that he “probably” got away with one. However, the Chesterfield, Virginia, native thinks it didn’t play toward the eventual outcome of the race.

“When I’m looking around in the mirrors and through the side, I just know that I’m in that vicinity. I just kind of go when I feel like it’s right to go,” Hamlin said. “When I look back at it, I was not as close to the box as I thought I was … the difference is, where I went played no difference in the outcome. I know that people would like to think it changed the result, but it didn’t. We were side-by-side in the middle of [Turns] 1 and 2, so it didn’t change anything.

“I definitely understand that it’s in the rulebook as a black-and-white rule, but it’s just something that all of us have taken advantage of over the last billion years. If you really want to analyze them, I guarantee you over 50% are jumped early.”

Denny Hamlin stands by his car during NASCAR Cup Series qualifying on Saturday at Martinsville. (Photo: Wayne Riegle | The Podium Finish)

In real-time, TV didn’t show the restart. It cut to a shot of the field passing through Turns 3 and 4. FOX didn’t show a replay until after the post-race interview with Truex, when he first referred to his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate jumping the restart. Ultimately, Hamlin believes that’s what might have saved his race last Sunday.

“From my benefit, the biggest positive I had was that the TV didn’t show it. That probably was the key — that the TV wasn’t even looking at the restart when it happened,” Hamlin said. “Luckily for me, they were on the wrong camera.”

During the final lap, Truex and Larson got into each other and the two had extracurriculars as their cars came across the finish line. Truex ran him into the fence before Larson hit him hard entering Turn 1 on the cooldown lap. Before heading to pit road, he ran into the back of Hamlin.

But it wasn’t personal. Truex said he isn’t mad at Larson and he isn’t mad at Hamlin. More than anything, he’s just mad at the situation and that it happened to him.

“[Larson] slid up into me and I mean barely, barely got me in the side in [Turns] 1 and 2 and just my lid popped off,” Truex said. “He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”


Martin Truex Jr. during NASCAR Cup Series practice on Saturday at Martinsville. (Photo: Wayne Riegle | The Podium Finish)

Truex has no choice but to reset and focus on Martinsville Speedway this weekend, where he’s won three times. He leads driver’s points by 14 over Larson and will start the Cook Out 400 from fourth.

“It’s water under the bridge. It’s a race that’s over,” Truex said. “I was frustrated. It’s aggravating to lead an entire race, dominate an entire race and then have it go away because I think that’s the fifth or sixth time it’s happened at Richmond. So, you just aggravated and it just all piles on, and in a short amount of time — in just 10 or 15 minutes — I clearly lost my cool and did some things I’m probably not proud of.

“You move on, you go to next week and you hope you can come out on top and do a better job.”

Nathan Solomon serves as the managing editor of The Podium Finish. He has been part of the team since 2021 and is accredited by the National Motorsports Press Association. Solomon is a senior in the Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure University. Contact him at

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