Martin Truex Jr. continues the Gibbs and Penske streak at Richmond

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nascar/sprint/drivers/380/" data-ylk="slk:Martin Truex Jr">Martin Truex Jr</a>. has his first win of 2019. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr. has his first win of 2019. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Martin Truex Jr. finally has a win at a short track. And a team not named Joe Gibbs Racing or Team Penske still hasn’t won a race in 2019.

Truex held off Clint Bowyer and then Joey Logano over the last 25 laps of Saturday night’s race to get his first win of 2019 and his first win at a track less than a mile in length.

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Truex pulled off the win with a car that he said wasn’t performing too well over the final tenth of the race. It was his first short track win in over 80 starts.

“I was struggling the last 40 laps,” Truex said. “I had no front turn, I was just real, real tight in that last run.”

The win locks Truex into the playoffs and means that Joe Gibbs Racing has won six of the first nine races of the 2019 season. His teammate Kyle Busch has three wins and Denny Hamlin has two.

Had Logano passed Truex, the streak would have continued anyway. Team Penske has won the other three races in 2019 and a Logano victory would have been its fourth. No Cup Series season has gone on this long with just two teams gobbling up all the race wins.

Bowyer finished third, while Kevin Harvick was fourth and Denny Hamlin was fifth. Busch had the dominant car in the early stages of the race but got a pit road speeding penalty. He finished eighth.

Eight of the race’s 37 starters and four of the top 10 starters failed pre-race inspection Saturday afternoon. All the cars that had failed inspection had to start at the back.

The race also didn’t feature any multi-car crashes and continued a 2019 trend of tame racing. The only two incidents came because of flat tires. Kyle Larson crashed into the wall because of a flat and so did Michael McDowell.

Kyle Larson’s miserable start continues

Kyle Larson’s having a bad 2019 season. Contact caused a tire rub on Larson’s left rear tire early in the race and he came to pit road so the team could pull the fender and prevent a flat tire from happening.

Well ... the fender pulling wasn’t good enough. Larson returned to the race and soon found himself in the wall because of a flat tire. He drove the car straight to the garage and ended up in last place.

Larson is now 19th in the points standings and 204 points back of the points lead.

The top 20 is closer in 2019 than it was in 2018

As JGR and Penske have hogged all the spots in victory lane in 2019 the rest of the top 20 is actually closer to the lead than it was a year ago.

The two teams have combined to win the first nine races of the season; no two teams have ever won the first nine races of a Cup season before. But crazily enough, drivers throughout the top 20 are actually closer to the points lead than they were a year ago.

After winning Saturday night at Richmond, Martin Truex Jr. is in sixth in the points standings and 89 points behind teammate Kyle Busch for the points lead. A year ago, fourth-place Kevin Harvick was 91 points behind Busch, who was leading the points.

The trend continues as you go down the standings. Erik Jones was 12th in the standings a year ago and 182 points behind Busch. This year Jones is 17th, but just 188 points behind Busch.

The driver in 12th this year, Daniel Suarez, is 165 points behind Busch. Ryan Newman, the driver in 17th at this time a year ago, was 229 points off the points lead. William Byron is currently in 20th in the standings and he’s 38 points closer to the lead than the 20th-place driver was a year ago.

What classic is NASCAR talking about?

NASCAR fired off a tweet calling Saturday’s race a “classic” after Truex’s win.

Sorry, Truex’s win wasn’t a classic. Yeah, it was nice that he got his first short track win and his first win with Joe Gibbs Racing. And while the race produced a close finish, there’s nothing extremely memorable about it unless you’re a Truex fan. A classic is a race that you remember for a long, long time. Non-Truex fans may forget who won this race in a couple months.

Calling Saturday night’s race a “classic” continues NASCAR’s desperate trend of overselling anything and everything. That’s dangerous. When you oversell everything you soon realize you have a hard time selling anything.

Results

1. Martin Truex Jr.

2. Joey Logano

3. Clint Bowyer

4. Kevin Harvick

5. Denny Hamlin

6. Austin Dillon

7. Brad Keselowski

8. Kyle Busch

9. Ryan Newman

10. Paul Menard

11. Kurt Busch

12. Jimmie Johnson

13. William Byron

14. Erik Jones

15. Chase Elliott

16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

17. Alex Bowman

18. Daniel Suarez

19. Daniel Hemric

20. Ryan Preece

21. Ty Dillon

22. Chris Buescher

23. Aric Almirola

24. Matt DiBenedetto

25. Ryan Blaney

26. Corey LaJoie

27. Bubba Wallace

28. David Ragan

29. Matt Tifft

30. Ross Chastain

31. Jeb Burton

32. Bayley Currey

33. Joey Gase

34. Quin Houff

35. Landon Cassill

36. Michael McDowell

37. Kyle Larson

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports

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