After eight races, countless rain delays, and a mid-race wreck causing a red flag, we finally have our first repeat winner of the NASCAR Cup season. It came in a rather surprising fashion too as Ryan Blaney showed dominance by winning the first two stages. It wasn’t enough as a late pit stop issue cost him the win and Martin Truex, Jr. now leads the Cup Series standings with two wins. This is the Martinsville recap.
After racing the first half of stage one on Saturday, the Cup Series was back to finish the race Sunday afternoon. Ryan Blaney (12) and Denny Hamlin (11) showed speed early. Hamlin led the pack to green on the Sunday restart but then was passed by Blaney, who later would capture the first stage win. The cars, in general, seemed very loose going into turn one and out of two. As the race continued, the tire wear started to bring problems for several teams.
Ryan Blaney sweeps the stages at Martinsville. Will he become first driver to win multiple races this year? pic.twitter.com/PHRy5QT84M— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) April 11, 2021
As the track began to settle, the cars really started to slide around which got the caution flag rolling. The stage began with Hamlin running upfront, then on lap 175, Blaney took the lead again. The 12 had a very strong long-run car for most of the race. Towards the end of the stage, Cody Ware (51) spun from a blown tire. Blaney managed to hold off the 11 for the last two laps after the restart to sweep the first two stages.
The BIG One strikes at NASCAR’s shortest track. 😳 pic.twitter.com/HzaFAbWojJ— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) April 11, 2021
After the stage two pit stop jumbled up the pack, chaos followed. With 115 laps left in the race, the whole mid-pack was involved in a wreck on the backstretch completely blocking the entire width of the track. Surprisingly, only six cars were unable to continue and the rest stayed on the track. Michael McDowell’s (34), Daniel Suarez’s (99), Brad Keselowski’s (2), Alex Bowman’s (88), Justin Haley’s (77), and Ryan Preece’s (37) days were done. The wreck brought out the red flag which lasted for almost 22 minutes.
Truex Breaks the Streak
Finish this sentence for us: “Martin Truex Jr.’s burnout at Martinsville was ____________!” pic.twitter.com/dDeAxyHVIr— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) April 12, 2021
With a late-race caution, pit stops became crucial. Unfortunately for Ryan Blaney, his chances at breaking his Martinsville runner-up record became slim to none. An air gun hose got caught on the driver-side skirt of the 12 and was drug out of the box, which led to him having to start in the rear on the final restart. The other dominant car in the race, Denny Hamlin, couldn’t catch the 19 in the short time he had. The 12 and the 11 led a combined 433 of 500 laps but neither could bring the grandfather clock home. Martin Truex, Jr. is the first driver this season to pick up a second win and gave the fans in attendance and at home a burnout to remember.