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NASCAR Martinsville: Truex recovers from penalty for first Cup win of 2020

Martin Truex Jr recovered from a pitlane infringement penalty to dominate the NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville and score his first victory of the 2020 season

Truex's Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry was sent to the back of the field, after he incorrectly cut across the line marking when drivers have to commit to entering the pitlane at the end of the first stage.

The #19 restarted in 22nd place and slowly began to make his way through the field in the first ever night race to be held at the 0.5-mile Martinsville circuit.

By the end of the second 130-lap stage, Truex had recovered to 15th and, helped by some caution periods, was in the top five by Lap 330 of a total 500.

Assisted by back-marker traffic, Truex was able to close in on leading Penske duo Joey Logano and Brad Keselowsi, taking a lead he was not to lose on lap 370 and pulled away to take his first victory since his crushing win in the fall Martinsville race in 2019 by 4.7s over Ryan Blaney.

Blaney, who had been randomly drawn on pole position in his #12 Penske Ford Mustang struggled in the early stages of the race, dropping to a lap down due to excessive tyre wear - something which affected the whole field.

Having dropped to as low as 19th during the first stage, Blaney recovered to finish runner-up in the second segment and took the lead early in the final stage.

However, during a round of caution pitstops, he was penalised after a crew member jumped over the pitwall, sending Blaney to the rear of the field.

He then carved his way through the pack, and with 50 laps to go, was hustling team-mates Logano and Keselowski for second behind Truex.

Blaney passed the two to record a fifth top 10 result of the season, as Keselowski and stage one winner Logano made it a Penske 2-3-4.

Chase Elliott was the lead Chevrolet Camaro finisher in fifth for Hendrick Motorsports, with team-mate Alex Bowman in sixth - his second top 10 finish since NASCAR resumed its season following the two-month COVID-19 forced hiatus.

Matt DiBenedetto logged a seventh-place finish in his Wood Brothers Racing Mustang entry as William Byron and Kurt Busch recorded decent finishes for Hendrick and Chip Ganassi Racing, respectively.

Jimmie Johnson, whose victory in stage two was just his third ever since NASCAR adopted the stage format in 2017, was 10th, having looked comfortable in the lead.

The seven-time champion just held onto 10th after a late race battle with Richard Petty Motorsports' Bubba Wallace Jr - his Camaro running a special "Black Lives Matter" livery.

Wallace was able to take fifth and sixth in the first two stages, owing to clever strategy work from his pit-crew, but a later slow stop ruined his chances of improving on his 11th place finish.

All three Stewart-Haas Racing cars were hobbled throughout the race by battery issues, with Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer and Aric Almirola being forced to pit on occasion to rectify the problems.

The trio could only manage 15th, 17th and 33rd, respectively - all at least one lap down.

JGR duo Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin endured a torrid race.

The #18 and #11 were able to recover from the early struggles which affected most of the field, and their misery was further compounded when Joey Gase did not pit under a caution, meaning they were not given the free pass and wave around - leaving them marooned in 19th and 24th, with team-mate Erik Jones, 20th.

Austin Dillon had to be helped from his #3 Richard Childress Racing machine late on after a panel on his car was bent which allowed hot fumes into the cockpit, overwhelming Dillon.

He was taken to the in-field medical centre and given oxygen but was released shortly afterwards.

Martinsville Results (500 laps)

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Martin Truex Jr. Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 3h23m56.s
2 Ryan Blaney Team Penske Ford 4.705s
3 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford 5.313s
4 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 9.103s
5 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 11.481s
6 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 12.926s
7 Matt DiBenedetto Wood Brothers Racing Ford 14.089s
8 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 14.720s
9 Kurt Busch Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 17.186s
10 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 18.640s
11 Darrell Wallace Jr. Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet 18.810s
12 Ryan Newman Roush Fenway Racing Ford 20.356s
13 Chris Buescher Roush Fenway Racing Ford 20.690s
14 Michael McDowell Front Row Motorsports Ford 21.685s
15 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 1 Lap
16 Tyler Reddick Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 1 Lap
17 Clint Bowyer Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 1 Lap
18 Corey LaJoie Go FAS Racing Ford 1 Lap
19 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 1 Lap
20 Erik Jones Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 3 Laps
21 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 3 Laps
22 Ty Dillon Germain Racing Chevrolet 3 Laps
23 Matt Kenseth Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 3 Laps
24 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 3 Laps
25 John Hunter Nemechek Front Row Motorsports Ford 3 Laps
26 Ryan Preece JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 4 Laps
27 Daniel Suarez Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota 6 Laps
28 Christopher Bell Leavine Family Racing Toyota 6 Laps
29 Cole Custer Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 6 Laps
30 Brennan Poole Premium Motorsports Chevrolet 6 Laps
31 J.J. Yeley Rick Ware Racing Ford 7 Laps
32 David Starr Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet 21 Laps
33 Aric Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Battery
34 Quin Houff StarCom Racing Chevrolet 26 Laps
35 Joey Gase Petty Ware Racing Ford 36 Laps
36 Garrett Smithley Spire Motorsports Chevrolet 50 Laps
37 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Accident
38 Reed Sorenson Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet Electrical
39 Timmy Hill MBM Motorsports Toyota Fuel pump

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