NASCAR Cup Series

Despite start penalty, Martin Truex Jr. wins Federated Auto Parts 400

3 Mins read
Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Martin Truex Jr. is good at Richmond Raceway. Two years after sweeping the NASCAR Cup Series races there, he led the final fifty-one laps in Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders to win his fourth race of the year and punch his ticket to the Round of 12.

Much like Xfinity Series race winner Noah Gragson earlier in the day, Truex started third while points leader Kyle Larson was on pole; Truex’s Joe Gibbs Racing team-mate Denny Hamlin began the night in second. Truex briefly enjoyed a strong start before it turned out to be too good as he was penalised for jumping at the line, forcing him to pass through pit road before rejoining. After six playoff drivers wrecked out in last week’s Darlington event, the streak continued when Kurt Busch spun and slammed into the turn one wall on lap 42.

At the front, Hamlin led all but four laps (Busch led four under competition caution) to win the first stage ahead of Chase ElliottJoey Logano, Larson, Ryan BlaneyRoss ChastainBrad Keselowski, Truex, Kevin Harvick, and Aric Almirola. All but Chastain were playoff drivers.

The 148-lap Stage #2 ran completely green with Hamlin, Elliott, Truex, and Larson leading significant laps. JGR’s Christopher Bell also enjoyed some time in front during the green-flag pit cycle. During his stop, Elliott backed up under the belief that he was in a lengthy stop, but inadvertently destroyed his crew’s jack and consequently sinking him a lap down. By the green-checkered flag, Hamlin led a JGR 1–2–3 with Kyle Busch and Truex tailing. Larson, Logano, Bell, Chastain, Almirola, Alex Bowman, and Harvick. Bell and Chastain split the playoff racers.

Hamlin kicked off the final stage by continuing to lead. Six laps in, Bubba Wallace‘s brakes failed and he wrecked for what would be the segment’s only caution. As the race crossed the 100-to-go mark, drivers began pitting under green; Michael McDowell, who finished last in the playoff opener, continued to have postseason woes when he was slapped with a speeding penalty for a third time. Another pit cycle came with fifty laps left, during which Truex inherited the lead from Larson as he made his stop. Busch sped on pit road and received a penalty.

Truex pulled away, lapping all but the top nine cars, en route to his fourth win of 2021, first since Darlington in May, and third at Richmond. Hamlin and Bell completed the JGR top three sweep.

“[The start violation penalty] was frustrating, I’m not going to lie,” said Truex. “But I knew we’d have a good enough car to overcome it. It felt pretty good the first couple laps. Just one of those things. You’ve got to put it out of your mind and you’ve got to go race, and we knew there was a lot on the line tonight. Very happy to get to do this and go to Bristol without any worries next week is always fun.”

Race results

FinishStartNumberDriverTeamManufacturerLapsStatus
1319Martin Truex Jr.Joe Gibbs RacingToyota400Running
2211Denny HamlinJoe Gibbs RacingToyota400Running
31020Christopher BellJoe Gibbs RacingToyota400Running
4139Chase ElliottHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet400Running
5622Joey LoganoTeam PenskeFord400Running
615Kyle LarsonHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet400Running
71742Ross ChastainChip Ganassi RacingChevrolet400Running
854Kevin HarvickStewart-Haas RacingFord400Running
91518Kyle BuschJoe Gibbs RacingToyota400Running
10812Ryan BlaneyTeam PenskeFord399Running
11193Austin DillonRichard Childress RacingChevrolet399Running
121248Alex BowmanHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet399Running
1372Brad KeselowskiTeam PenskeFord399Running
14910Aric AlmirolaStewart-Haas RacingFord399Running
15118Tyler ReddickRichard Childress RacingChevrolet398Running
162614Chase BriscoeStewart-Haas RacingFord398Running
172299Daniel SuárezTrackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet398Running
182821Matt DiBenedettoWood Brothers RacingFord398Running
191424William ByronHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet398Running
20246Ryan NewmanRoush Fenway RacingFord398Running
213143Erik JonesRichard Petty MotorsportsChevrolet398Running
222141Cole CusterStewart-Haas RacingFord397Running
232347Ricky Stenhouse Jr.JTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet397Running
241817Chris BuescherRoush Fenway RacingFord396Running
252037Ryan PreeceJTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet396Running
263038Anthony AlfredoFront Row MotorsportsFord396Running
272977Justin Haley*Spire MotorsportsChevrolet396Running
281634Michael McDowellFront Row MotorsportsFord395Running
29257Corey LaJoieSpire MotorsportsChevrolet395Running
303278B.J. McLeod*Live Fast MotorsportsFord393Running
313651Garrett Smithley*Rick Ware RacingChevrolet389Running
322723Bubba Wallace23XI RacingToyota388Running
333415Joey Gase*Rick Ware RacingChevrolet387Running
343753J.J. Yeley*Rick Ware RacingChevrolet386Running
353500Quin HouffStarCom RacingChevrolet386Running
363352Josh BilickiRick Ware RacingFord385Running
3741Kurt BuschChip Ganassi RacingChevrolet40Accident
Bold – Currently in playoffs
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Cup points
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History major at San Jose State University and lifelong motorsports fan who covers NASCAR and the Stadium Super Trucks.
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