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Truex Jr. rolls to Richmond win, 2-for-2 to start playoffs


EditorsNote: Updates with Jones disqualified in grafs 7-12

Martin Truex Jr. started the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season with an 0-for-81 career record on the series' short tracks. Thanks to the venerable old .75-mile Richmond Raceway, Truex has now won twice.

Victory No. 2 came Saturday night as he won the Federated Auto Parts 400, giving him a season sweep at Richmond.

"I'm speechless," Truex said.

The win was the Joe Gibbs Racing driver's second in a row as he won the playoffs-opening race a week ago at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The Richmond 400-lapper gave Truex his series-best sixth of the season and the 25th of the 2017 Cup champion's career.

"When things are rolling, they just are," he said.

Truex's win appeared to be just the beginning for JGR, which saw its cars cross the finish line 1-2-3-4 for the first time in the organization's history. But Erik Jones' No. 20 Toyota, which came across fourth, failed post-race inspection and was dropped down to 38th, last place.

The decision leaves Jones 45 points below the cutoff with one race remaining until the playoff field is cut from 16 to 12.

According a report by NASCAR media, Jones' car failed its pass through the Optical Scanning Station, an issue with its rear-wheel alignment the culprit. Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series director Jay Fabian said inspectors did not find any part designed to give Jones an advantage during the race.

"And the end of the day, the result is the same -- it failed," Fabian said, according to NASCAR.

Kyle Busch, a six-time winner for Gibbs at Richmond, finished second -- 1.6 seconds back after leading a race-best 202 laps.

Third was teammate Denny Hamlin while Team Penske's Brad Keselowski bumped up from fifth to fourth following Jones' disqualification. Ryan Newman from Roush Fenway Racing went from sixth into the top five.

"Awesome job by everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing," Busch, who finished an aggravating 19th at his hometown of Las Vegas last week, said. "Martin, the car, the combination there of, us, the combination there of, just lacked a little bit."

Gibbs drivers have won 15 of the 28 races in 2019. They have won 15 times at Richmond.

To get the victory, Truex had to overcome a Lap 316 incident in which he was hit and spun by Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Truex kept his car clean on the spin and began to track down leader Busch.

With 26 laps to go, Truex caught Busch and a lap later, he took the lead.

"To spin and win is pretty incredible," Truex said. "I've never done anything like that in my life.

"Luckily I didn't hit anything. I tried to keep it off the fence, tried to just get it spun around and keep going."

Next up in the Round of 16 is the Roval 400, a race that incorporates the infield road course and part of the oval at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C.

The Round of 12 will begin in two weeks at the Dover Monster Mile.

Playoffs drivers Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer finished seventh through ninth, respectively.

--Field Level Media


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