Nascar

Martin Truex Jr. erases years of frustration with breakthrough at Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. — Martin Truex Jr. didn’t need to convince himself he could run well at Richmond Raceway. He has several seasons’ worth of statistics to prove it, but he was never able to put it all together to win there.

Prior to Saturday night's Toyota Owners 400, he dominated in four of the last five races at the .75-mile track, leading more than 100 laps in four races since the fall of 2016 but never taking the checkered flag. Across the previous three Richmond races, he led an incredible 40 percent of the laps but never finished higher than third.

But after 26 winless races at Richmond and an 80-race drought across the three short tracks in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Truex finally earned his first victory at a track smaller than a mile, surviving late surges from Joey Logano and Clint Bowyer, who finished second and third, respectively.

Martin Truex Jr. performs a burnout after winning the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway. (Photo: Amber Searls, USA TODAY Sports)

It was also Truex's first victory with Joe Gibbs Racing, which he joined this season, and the 38-year-old driver struggled to articulate the sense of relief he and his team felt.

“To finally get that first win — not only on a short track but here at Richmond, a track where we’ve been so strong the last couple seasons and led so many laps and had some real, real heartbreakers,” Truex said after the race. “Those things are hard to get through. But they make you stronger and make you appreciate the good days.”

Saturday’s race, the ninth of the 2019 season, resembled Truex’s recent Richmond performances because, yet again, he led a race-high 186 laps, including the final 79.

But this time, there was no bad luck coming his way.

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