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NASCAR Cup Series

Untimely Caution Ruins Dominating Night for Truex


Martin Truex Jr. during Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond Raceway. (Photo: Daniel Rankin | The Podium Finish)

RICHMOND, Va. — A caution with two laps to go ultimately ended a dominating night for Martin Truex Jr., who finished fourth at Richmond Raceway after leading 228 laps.

Truex, who started seventh, showed he had the car to beat by early in Stage 2. He and Kyle Larson, arguably the two fastest drivers all night, had varying pit strategies in the second stage that ultimately shook up the running order of the race. Truex came for service on Lap 124 while Larson ran long until Lap 150. Larson had intended to pit just once in Stage 2, but Truex had the advantage after a Lap 170 caution for Kyle Busch favored him.

The 43-year-old from Mayetta, New Jersey, won the stage and dominated Stage 3. He only lost the lead during green flag pit stops, and although Joey Logano had closed within a second of the lead, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver cruised toward another dominating victory.

But just moments before Truex could take the white flag — caution. While battling for position inside the top five, Bubba Wallace unintentionally tagged Larson and sent him for a spin down the frontstretch.

As expected, all of the leaders pitted. But Denny Hamlin won the race off pit road and got to restart with the lead.

Taking the bottom lane, Hamlin got a great jump — a jump that left many questioning whether he went too soon. Hamlin ran Truex a little high into Turn 1, giving him all the breathing room he needed for his second win in three races and his fifth at Richmond.

“It’s unfortunate. Unfortunately, this has happened to me a few times over the years,” Truex said after the race. “We were in a great spot and had a great Auto-Owners Toyota Camry all night long. The guys did a really good job all night. We got beat out of the pits and then – I don’t know. He jumped the start and then used me up into Turn 1. Definitely sucks, but a good solid day and a car capable of winning, so we will just have to come back next week and try to get them then.”

NASCAR never officially put the restart under review, but Elton Sawyer, the senior vice president of competition, said that the sanctioning body took a look and deemed it clean.

Martin Truex Jr. moments after climbing out of his car following the NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond Raceway. (Photo: Daniel Rankin | The Podium Finish)

“We reviewed it, we looked at it. Obviously, the 11 was the control vehicle — it was awful close, but we deemed it to be a good restart,” Sawyer said, addressing the media in the garage postrace.

Hamlin also admitted that it was close, but felt he restarted fairly against his teammate.

“I went right at [the line], for sure.” Hamlin said. “I did that because I saw those guys rolling to me. The 22 was laying back. The 19 was rolling a couple of miles an hour quicker than I was. I wasn’t going to let them have an advantage that my team earned on pit road. Certainly made sure I went to my nose, got there. But I took off right away.”

Understandably, Truex was frustrated. He and Larson door slammed down the backstretch for third before Larson ran him into the fence at the start/finish line. They door slammed again, this time causing damage to Truex’s No. 19 Toyota Camry, entering Turn 1 on the cooldown lap.

“He just hung a left, hit my right front and had me up on the apron and then turned left down the middle of the backstretch,” Larson told reporters. “Ultimately, I think he’s just mad at Denny and I was the closest guy to him to take some anger out on.”

Only Larson (51) earned more points Sunday than Truex (50). Hamlin, the winner, scored 46 as he earned just six stage points.

Though he’s winless in seven tries this season, Truex leads driver’s points with 270 — 14 above Larson.


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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