Martin Truex Jr. Gets Spun, Still Wins Second Straight NASCAR Playoff Race

By David Biggy | Sep 25, 2019
Courtesy of: Joe Gibbs Racing Martin Truex Jr. celebrates with the Joe Gibbs Racing team after he captured the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway on Sept. 21.

Stafford Township — “Spin to win” may become the new catch phrase for Martin Truex Jr. The Stafford Township native averted disaster on lap 314 of the Federate Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway on Sept. 21, when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. clipped Truex’s back end and sent his No. 19 Toyota into a spin right in the middle of the racetrack. Somehow Truex kept his composure, stayed in the race and then went on to victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.

“The first thing I thought was ‘What the hell?’ and then I just tried to keep it out of the wall, try to spin it out and get going again,” Truex said during the post-race press conference after capturing his sixth win of the season. “I just hoped nobody else hit me in the smoke, and just tried to get going and lose as little time as possible. Luckily, we were able to come out of that deal in third, go into the pits third and leave the pits third. That’s definitely not the way you draw them up and plan them, but it added some drama to the race.”

Starting in the eighth position, Truex worked his way into second place by lap 45 before taking the lead over Brad Keselowski by lap 55. Truex remained in the lead through lap 100 but soon after was overtaken by Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch, who stayed at the front of the field for the next 120 laps.

Truex made his way back to the front by lap 285, but dropped into third following the tap by Stenhouse – who had just returned to the track with new tires after a pit stop during the previous lap and appeared to have his right-front tire lock up for a second, sending his right-front fender into the left tail of Truex’s car.

The No. 19 got turned and Truex managed to right the car without getting whacked. Then it was on to pit road.

“Because we were pretty far out front, we got going in a pretty good spot, left pit road in a good position and then just made good adjustments at the end with (crew chief) Cole (Pearn) and the guys,” Truex said immediately after the race.

After Truex climbed back into the second spot during the next 50 laps, he eventually regained the lead ahead of Busch on lap 375 and went on to secure his second straight checkered flag, which he gave to a young fan along the track fence following the on-track interview, once he climbed out of his car after a celebratory burnout.

Busch took second, 2.630 seconds behind Truex, while JGR teammate Denny Hamlin ran third. For Truex, it was the first time he’d ever won back-to-back races and swept the two Richmond races during a season. Truex won the Sept. 15 South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to start his playoff run.

“I don’t even know what to say,” he said. “To sweep Richmond is pretty awesome. It’s pretty amazing. This is just frigging unbelievable. We came here to get bonus points, and we damn sure did that.”

With the victory in Las Vegas the previous week, Truex automatically earned a place among the top 12 for the second stage of the playoff series. Nonetheless, gaining bonus points with another playoff win and sitting atop the standings only helps his cause for later in the playoffs.

“If anyone in the field said they wouldn’t want to be in this position, they’re lying,” he said. “It’s pretty incredible to be sitting here with two playoff wins in two races. We’re just going to try to keep it going.”

Truex and JGR will try to keep the winning streak alive in the Bank of America ROVAL 400 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course on Sept. 29. The following week, at Dover International Speedway in Delaware, the Round of 12 begins.

“You always want to win more, especially at this point in the season,” Truex said. “Every race means something; every one of them is huge. We’ve been good on road courses, in general, so it should fit into our wheelhouse. We have nothing to lose, and we’re going to go there with the same expectations as we did tonight. Bonus points are huge, so hopefully we can get more next week. I’m just proud of everyone on our team, and I’m really thankful to drive great race cars and have a great team.”

— David Biggy

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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