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MARTINSVILLE, VIRGINIA - APRIL 10: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 Bass Pro Toyota, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 10, 2021 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

Martin Truex Jr. led 20 laps on the way to his second win of 2021. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

NASCAR’s streak of different winners to start the 2021 season has ended at seven.

Martin Truex Jr. got his second win of the season at Martinsville on Sunday to become the first driver to win two races in 2021. Truex lost the lead to teammate Denny Hamlin on a restart with 42 laps to go but ran Hamlin down and passed him with 15 laps to go after they ran side-by-side for four laps.

Truex had a better car on longer runs. While Hamlin was able to easily drive away after the restart, Truex confidently passed him and drove away for the win. Chase Elliott passed Hamlin for second with six laps to go. 

“It started getting dark and she came to life,” Truex said of his car.

The victory is Truex’s third in four Martinsville races. He won the first race of 2020 at Martinsville and also won in the fall of 2019. That 2020 June race at Martinsville was a night race. Sunday’s race was supposed to be on Saturday night but was called for rain after just 42 laps were completed. 

Truex won at Phoenix earlier in the season. An Elliott or Hamlin win on Sunday would have been eight winners in eight races to start the 2021 Cup Series season. 

Hamlin led 276 of the race’s 500 laps. Throw in 20 laps led by Truex and nine laps led by Christopher Bell and Joe Gibbs Racing cars led 305 laps.

Blaney’s penalty ruins chances of a win

Ryan Blaney was running second when the final caution of the race came out with less than 50 laps to go. And he restarted 19th after that caution because he ran over his team’s air hose on their final pit stop.

Blaney drove his way up to 11th by the end of the race to salvage a decent finish. But he had a good chance at a win without the penalty — even though his team lost three spots on pit road without the penalty.

Blaney led 157 laps. He was the only driver other than Hamlin to lead over 100 laps. 

A lot of damaged cars

The race featured 17 cautions — a not abnormal amount of cautions for a race at Martinsville. And a lot of drivers were involved in those cautions.

Eighteen of the 37 drivers in Sunday’s race were involved in at least one caution. Drivers like Matt DiBenedetto and Kyle Busch were involved in multiple cautions. And they both finished inside the top 12.

Busch finished 10th while DiBenedetto was 12th.

What’s the deal with the Rick Ware cars?

Backmarker team Rick Ware Racing placed all four cars in the top 30. That’s an achievement for a team that runs as cheaply as possible and has its cars get lapped not long after the green flag flies every week.

But it also had two drivers unhappy with each other throughout the course of the race. James Davison (22nd) was the first caution of the race on Saturday night when he went spinning off the bumper of teammate Cody Ware (28th). And it sure looked like Ware’s spin of Davison was intentional. 

Ware was then involved in a couple more cautions throughout the race. And social media reports of the radio chatter among the Davison and Ware teams revealed some tension between the two teams. 

Race results

1. Martin Truex Jr.

2. Chase Elliott

3. Denny Hamlin

4. William Byron

5. Kyle Larson

6. Joey Logano

7. Christopher Bell

8. Tyler Reddick

9. Kevin Harvick

10. Kyle Busch

11. Ryan Blaney

12. Matt DiBenedetto

13. Chris Buescher

14. Austin Dillon

15. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

16. Bubba Wallace

17. Ross Chastain

18. Cole Custer

19. Ryan Newman

20. Aric Almirola

21. Kurt Busch

22. James Davison

23. Josh Bilicki

24. Quin Houff

25. JJ Yeley

26. Anthony Alfredo

27. Chase Briscoe

28. Cody Ware

29. BJ McLeod

30. Erik Jones

31. Michael McDowell

32. Daniel Suarez

33. Brad Keselowski

34. Alex Bowman

35. Justin Haley

36. Ryan Preece

37. Corey LaJoie

Points standings

1. Denny Hamlin, 379 points

2. Martin Truex Jr., 303

3. Joey Logano, 302

4. Kyle Larson, 280

5. Ryan Blaney, 272

6. William Byron, 270

7. Chase Elliott, 260

8. Kevin Harvick, 253

9. Brad Keselowski, 244

10. Christopher Bell, 217

11. Kyle Busch, 212

12. Austin Dillon, 209

13. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 202

14. Chris Buescher, 192

15. Kurt Busch, 190

16. Michael McDowell, 189

17. Alex Bowman, 185

18. Ryan Newman, 167

19. Bubba Wallace, 157

20. Ryan Preece, 155

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