‘Martin’s Ville’ again: Truex Jr. earns second win of season

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Martin Truex Jr. is the first NASCAR Cup Series driver with multiple wins this season.

Truex Jr. passed Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin for the lead with 16 laps to go and went on to win Sunday night at Martinsville Speedway. He has now won three of the last four Cup races at the half-mile short track.

The race began Saturday night, but was stopped after 42 laps due to rain. It resumed shortly after 4 p.m. ET on Sunday.

MORE: Martinsville Cup race results

“We never could quite get (the car) the way that we wanted it, then it started getting dark and she came to life,” Truex told Fox Sports after the race. “…It was a lot fun racing at the end there with Denny. We raced clean and we were able to come out on top.

“It’s always difficult (racing a teammate). We try to race hard, race clean. He was making it difficult on me. I was getting loose coming off the corners and his car got tight. We had opposite things going on and it made it difficult to pass.

“But we played nice. ‘Coach’ (Joe Gibbs) will be happy. It’ll be a cordial meeting tomorrow (laughs).”

Hamlin, who led a race-high 276 laps, appeared poised to battle Ryan Blaney for the win. But on the final pit stops under caution with 47 laps to go, Blaney was penalized after running over his air hose and taking it outside his pit box. He only partially recovered to finish 11th.

Truex beat Hamlin out of pit road to take the lead, but Hamlin regained it immediately after the restart with 42 laps to go. As the run progressed, though, Truex reeled Hamlin in and eventually made the winning pass.

“That’s just the cards we’re dealt,” Hamlin said to Fox Sports. “We had a really good short-run car, but we just did not have a good long-run car.

“We saved a set of tires and had the tire advantage, but we just couldn’t get our car to really turn in the long run. That was the bugaboo, I guess you could say.”

Reigning Cup Series champion Chase Elliott would also pass Hamlin to claim second place. William Byron and Kyle Larson finished fourth and fifth respectively, giving Hendrick Motorsports three drivers inside the top five.

Sunday’s action included a red flag period of over 20 minutes for a Lap 386 crash that involved a dozen cars.

The wreck was set off by Kyle Busch and Chris Buescher. After Busch made initial contact with Buescher while trying to pass him in Turn 1, the two clashed again off Turn 2 and went spinning – leaving nowhere for drivers behind them to go.

The incident eliminated Brad Keselowski, Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell, Alex Bowman and Daniel Suarez among others.

“There was nowhere I could go,” Suarez told Fox Sports after watching his car burn on the front-stretch. “I slammed on the brakes to try and slow down, but it was a parking lot in there. I couldn’t do anything about it.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Ryan Blaney

STAGE 2 WINNER: Ryan Blaney

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Larson’s fifth-place finish was only his second top-five finish in 13 career Cup starts at Martinsville … Kyle Busch and Buescher recovered from their involvement in the Lap 386 crash to salvage 10th and 13th respectively … Austin Dillon also rallied from a one-lap penalty for pitting outside his box during Lap 291 stops and finished 14th.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Alex Bowman was running second at the Lap 356 restart, but had to pit under green just twelve laps later for a loose right-front wheel. He was then taken out in the Lap 386 crash. … Corey LaJoie was looking at a potential top-10 finish until he suffered terminal damage after contact with Tyler Reddick on pit road at Lap 373.

NOTABLE: Truex has now won five of the last 11 Cup short track races. He began his Cup career winless in his first 80 short track races.

NEXT: The series returns to action Sunday, April 18 at Richmond Raceway (3 p.m. ET, FOX).

Talladega Xfinity starting lineup: Austin Hill wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — Austin Hill will lead the field to the green flag Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway after scoring his first career Xfinity Series pole.

Hill won the pole Friday with a lap of 182.036 mph. He will be joined on the front row by fellow playoff contender Ty Gibbs (181.981 mph).

MORE: Talladega Xfinity starting lineup

Playoff drivers will start in seven of the top eight spots. The exception is Sheldon Creed, who will start third after a lap of 181.870 mph. Hill and Creed give Richard Childress Racing the first and third starting spots.

Justin Allgaier (181.529) qualified fourth and Brandon Jones (181.305) completed the top five. Noah Gragson, who has won four races in a row, starts sixth after a lap of 181.134 mph and is followed by playoff drivers Josh Berry (181.052) and AJ Allmendinger (180.932).

The Xfinity Series race is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Saturday on USA Network.

Talladega Truck starting lineup: John Hunter Nemechek wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — John Hunter Nemechek will start on the pole for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race.

Nemechek earned the pole with a lap of 178.767 mph.

Nemechek is one of four playoff drivers starting in the top six: Chandler Smith (second, 177.732 mph), Zane Smith (fourth, 177.061) and Ty Majeski (sixth, 176.744). Majeski clinched a spot in next month’s championship race at Phoenix with his Bristol win.

MORE: Talladega Truck starting lineup

Also qualifying in the top five were Carson Hocevar (177.068) in third and Matt Crafton (176.960) in fifth.

Failing to qualify are Tim Viens, Spencer Boyd, Jason White and Natalie Decker.

Saturday Talladega Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather

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The second race of the opening round of the Xfinity playoffs takes drivers to Talladega Superspeedway.

Noah Gragson secured his spot in the next round by winning last weekend at Texas. Ryan Sieg holds the final transfer spot. Riley Herbst is the first driver below the cutline, one point behind Sieg. Also below the cutline are reigning series champion Daniel Hemric (-8 points), Brandon Jones (-12) and Jeremy Clements (-28).

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Talladega Superspeedway

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 4:09 p.m. … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:21 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3:30 p.m. … The invocation will be given at 4 p.m. … The Brookwood High School choir will perform the anthem at 4:02 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 113 laps (300.58 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 25. Stage 2 ends at Lap 50.

TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 4 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 3:30 p.m. on USA Network. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. and also will stream at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Sunny with a high of 78 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Noah Gragson won and was followed by Jeffrey Earnhardt and AJ Allmendinger.

 

Could Talladega open door for a record 20th winner?

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Talladega Superspeedway is known for fast speeds, huge drafting packs, sensational wrecks and tight finishes.

On Sunday (2 p.m. ET on NBC), it could be the site of an unexpected record.

Nineteen different drivers have won Cup races this season, tying a record. If a new winner shows up in Talladega victory lane Sunday, it will mark the first time in the sport’s history that 20 drivers have won races in a single season.

One of the remarkable things about that possibility is that the driver who has far and away the best record at Talladega among active drivers is among the group still looking for a win in 2022. That’s Brad Keselowski, who has won six times at NASCAR’s biggest track. No other active driver has more than three. (Keselowski is tied for second on the all-time Talladega win list with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. Dale Earnhardt tops that list with 10).

Talladega and Daytona tend to reject repeat winners. The past nine races at the two tracks have been won by nine different drivers.

Other seasonal non-winners who could break through at Talladega:

Ryan BlaneyBlaney’s only win this year is in the All-Star Race, so he’s still looking for his first points win while continuing to chase the championship. He won at Talladega in 2019 and 2020.

Martin Truex Jr. — Superspeedways have been a pox on Truex’s career. In 70 races at Talladega and Daytona, he has failed to win.

Aric Almirola — In what has been a disappointing season, Almirola’s best finish is a fifth — twice. He won at Talladega in 2018 but hasn’t had a top 10 in his last four runs there.

Michael McDowell — McDowell’s best finish at Talladega is a third, but he is usually very competitive in the Talladega and Daytona drafts, winning the 2021 Daytona 500.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Stenhouse won at Talladega in 2017 and usually is a factor in the draft.

Harrison Burton — Burton has had a tough rookie season, but the peculiarities of the Talladega draft should play in his favor. The No. 21 team’s next win will be its 100th.

Justin Haley — Haley has no top-10 runs in five Talladega starts, but he showed potential last week with a third-place finish at Texas.

Corey LaJoie — LaJoie has started nine Cup races at Talladega and has led exactly one lap. His best finish is a seventh.

Noah Gragson — Gragson, the star of this Xfinity season, is in the No. 48 for Hendrick Motorsports with Alex Bowman out because of concussion-like symptoms. In the Talladega draft he could be a threat.