RIDGEWAY, VA – Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 19 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing, captured the victory in the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway.
The win is historic as it was the first Cup race at night in the 73-year history of The Short Track.
Truex has now won consecutive Cup races at Martinsville, the 2019 First Data 500 and 2020 Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500.
He becomes the first driver to win fall to spring back-to-back races at Martinsville since Jimmie Johnson achieved the feat in 2012 to 2013.
Truex joins elite company with Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon, Rusty Wallace, Geoffrey Bodine, Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough, Richard Petty, Fred Lorenzen, Bob Welborn, and Jim Paschal as back-to-back winners at The Short Track.
“We’ve been working a long time at trying to figure this place out and just chipping away at it. The last couple years we’ve been really strong,” said Truex. “The first run of the race when the track was green, we pushed the right-front tire off in 30 laps and I was like, ‘oh man, this is going to be a long night.’ From there on we just kept making adjustments. We got up towards the front and then we had a pit road penalty and had to go to the back. It was really, really difficult to get through the field. Once we got near the front, I was like, okay we got something. Then we made one more adjustment and the thing took off. I knew we were knocking on the door the last month, we just had to get things to go our way and tonight we made the right calls.”
Truex led 132 of 500 laps, including the final 131 to take the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 midweek night race.
He has now won four consecutive races in the Commonwealth of Virginia sweeping the Cup races at Richmond Raceway in 2019 and the last two Cup races at Martinsville.
Tonight’s victory is Truex’s first of the 2020 Cup season and 27th career Cup win.
It is also his first checkered flag with new crew chief James Small.
“Congrats to James (Small, crew chief) on his first win. He’s doing an awesome job and really proud of him,” said Truex. “It’s huge for his confidence. I knew we would get one soon. The last couple weeks at the end of the race, we have a group text and I would say, ‘Our win’s coming soon guys, keep it up.’ Just so proud of them, we have an awesome team. Really proud of those guys. Nice to get another win early in the season and hopefully now we can get on a roll.”
Ryan Blaney, driver of the No. 12 Ford Mustang for Team Penske, overcame a pit-road penalty in the final stage to battle his way to a second-place finish at Martinsville.
He was followed by his teammates Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2, and Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22, in third and fourth respectively.
Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro for Hendrick Motorsports, finished fifth.
The top ten was rounded out by Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 88 for Hendrick Motorsports, Matt DiBenedetto, driver of the No. 21 for Stuart, Va. based Wood Brothers Racing, William Byron, driver of the No. 24 for Hendrick Motorsports, Kurt Busch, driver of No. 1 for Chip Ganassi Racing, and Johnson, driver of the No. 48 for Hendrick Motorsports.
Johnson led 70 laps and won Stage 2. Logano led a race-high 234 laps and won Stage 1.