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Everything That Happened in the Cup Race at Martinsville

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Armany DePaul

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What’s Happening?

The Cup Series headed to the paperclip Martinsville Speedway for the first time this season. After Richmond Raceway received mixed reviews last week following an eventful finish, NASCAR looked to get back on track with its third short track race of the season. The short track package has received less than desirable reviews this season. With the paperclip struggling to produce action-packed racing since the Next Gen era began, many were looking to see what the new package had in store for the famed Virginia short track.

Kyle Larson started from the pole position, kicking off a special race for Hendrick Motorsports. The team brought out special paint schemes for its four teams to commemorate its 40-year anniversary at the track that has meant so much to the winningest team in NASCAR. He won the spring race a year ago for his first grandfather clock of his career. He was looking for back-to-back spring race victories after he secured back-to-back pole positions. Ryan Blaney won the fall race to clinch his spot in the Championship 4, where he went on to win the championship. While the Mustang Dark Horse has lagged behind the Camaro and Camry, the defending champ has always excelled at the paperclip and looked to bring home Ford’s first win of the season. Here is everything that happened in the Cup race at Martinsville. Check it out!

You Need To Know:

  • Hendrick Motorsports continues its 40-year anniversary with special paint schemes that the numbers 5, 9, 24, and 48 all ran during the 400-lap event. Larson won this race a year ago while Byron secured a final 4 spot at Martinsville back in the fall. Larson started first while Byron rolled off 18th.
  • Toyota has won all the races this season with the short track package. Christopher Bell took the checkered in Phoenix while Hamlin won the race at Richmond last week. While Bristol did not feature the short track package, the Toyotas were just as dominant as they were in the previous races mentioned.
  • Martin Truex Jr. led 228 laps at Richmond Raceway. He looked to cruise to victory before an overtime restart relegated him to a 4th place finish. Truex has three grandfather clocks prior to today and the frustrated Toyota driver looked to right the wrongs of Richmond with redemption at Martinsville.

Larson Leads Stage 1 Flag-to-Flag

Kyle Larson started the race in first and never relinquished the lead in stage one. Despite Bubba Wallace mounting a charge in the final 10 laps, the 2021 champion held off the 23XI machine to take his first stage win at Martinsville Speedway.

The top two never changed positions during the first stage, with Larson and Wallace finishing the stage where they started.

Stenhouse Speed & Spin on Pit Road

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. came on pit road at the end of stage one. The driver of 47 was clipped by Chase Elliott coming to his pit stall, causing him to spin in his stall with the left rear of his race car sticking out. On top of that, Stenhouse was penalized for speeding on pit road, causing him to drop to restart 25th to begin stage two. Chase did not sustain any damage from the contact.

Christopher Bell and the No Good Right Front Tire

Running 21st on the lead lap, Christopher Bell ran into an issue on lap 110 with his right front tire that caused him to come down to pit road under green flag conditions. The caution flag would fly for debris on the front stretch, pinning the driver of the 20 four laps down in the 37th position. Only three lead-lap cars would come down pit road during the caution.

Bell would bring out the caution again in stage three on lap 204, after he had more issues with his left front tire. The tire woes continued to plague the 20 machine as he spent the remainder of the race multiple laps down before finishing the race in 35th.

Denny Hamlin Steals Stage 2

Joey Logano took two tires after stage one and led the majority of the middle stage of the race. That changed when Denny Hamlin charged through the field and made the first green flag pass for the lead on Logano to take the lead with 10 laps to go in stage two. The Richmond winner would pull away as Logano faded to win stage two, as he continued his quest to win the opening three races at short tracks.

Hendrick Dominates Stage Three

Chase Elliott took the lead from Hamlin in stage three, pulling away to lead a multitude of laps. In search of his first win since 2022, Elliott only had one challenger to worry about, his teammate William Byron. As the race progressed, Byron would in closer to his Hendrick teammate before passing the 9 on lap 327 and extending his lead to over three seconds. Hendrick Motorsports covered the podium places, with pole-sitter Larson rounding out the Hendrick trio in third. In front of over 1,500 former and current HMS employees, it looked to be a great cap off to a special day for Hendrick Motorsports.

Nemechek Caution Brings Out Overtime

With two laps to go, John Hunter Nemechek would blow a tire going into turn three, mere yards away from Byron taking the white flag. The caution would fly for only the fifth time, putting Hendrick’s history 1-2-3 finish in jeopardy. Nemecheck would DNF out of the race finishing in 36th.

Byron Caps Off Hendrick 1-2-3 Finish

Just as he did in Texas last year with HMS win number 300, William Byron won a milestone race for Rick Hendrick as he took the checkered flag at Martinsville. After battling Chase Elliott on the overtime restart, Byron pulled away on the final lap to take home his third win of the season and his second grandfather clock. Byron becomes the first driver since Kyle Busch in 2019 to win three out of the first eight races.

Kyle Larson finished second, sneaking by Elliott who comes home third over Bubba Wallace. This marked the first time in Martinsville history a team swept the top three positions. In front of over 1,500 Hendrick employees, it was a storybook ending for the famed NASCAR organization.

Conclusion

Despite the overtime finish, the race was par for the course when it comes to Next Gen races at Martinsville. There was plenty of action throughout the field but up front track position was the name of the race. Larson fell to fourth after stage one and never saw the lead again. After Logano held on to the lead for most of stage two, once he lost clean air he was never seen again. However, if you had a strong enough car, such as Byron did, you could go and pass the leader and take the checkered flag. As mentioned earlier as well, what a storybook ending to the race for Hendrick Motorsports.

That concludes this weekend at Martinsville. Be sure to check out the rest of DailyDownforce.com for recaps for all races as well as all the latest storylines and fan discussions.

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Picture of Armany DePaul

Armany DePaul

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