The NASCAR Cup Series got back on the track for their first race since the Easter break. The Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 took place over the weekend at Martinsville Speedway. The race started on Saturday night, but due to rain, it would be forced to finish on Sunday. The race would turn out to be a caution fest in the last stage, with Martin Truex Jr. continuing to build his case that Martinsville is truly “Martin’s Ville”.
NASCAR Cup Series Recap | Martin Truex Jr. Wins at Martinsville
Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 Stage 1
The Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 was delayed by rain. The start was pushed back about an hour. The original start of the race did take place on Saturday night under the lights as NASCAR had intended. The race was clean until Cody Ware dumped teammate James Davison bringing out a yellow. During this caution, the sky opened up again and NASCAR lost the track. The remainder of the race was pushed to Sunday as a result.
The action resumed around 4 pm EST on Sunday afternoon. About 20 laps after the restart, Kurt Busch spun around to bring out a caution. Aric Almirola fought hard to stay on the lead lap against Ryan Blaney over the last 15 laps of the stage. He was able to do so and Blaney earned the stage win.
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Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 Stage 2
Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney came off of pit road 1-2 and would trade the lead with each other early on. While Hamlin had the superior car off of restarts, Blaney was far better on the long runs and eventually pulled away. Then Cody Ware cut down a tire and spun to bring out a caution, erasing Blaney’s three-second lead. Shortly after, Ryan Newman and Matt DiBenedetto would make heavy contact, leading to another caution. Hamlin gave Blaney a bump in turns 3-4 down the stretch, but it failed to prevent the No. 12 team from sweeping the first two stages.
Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 Final Stage
Hamlin stayed out of the pits to take the lead during the stage break. Soon after the race took the green again, Justin Haley spun and brought out a caution. This set off a chain reaction of yellows over the entirety of the final stage. Not long after the next restart, Ware caused his third caution of the race. Then, Kyle Busch spun to create a caution. Anthony Alfredo, Brad Keselowski, and Ryan Newman would all have separate spins and bring out separate cautions. Alex Bowman was having a strong run all day until he had to pit from fourth because of a vibration. He should have waited for just a couple more laps to do so as Erik Jones was next to go around to bring out yet another yellow.
Then, the big one would hit Martinsville Speedway as a total of 15 cars turned the backstretch into a parking lot. It wasn’t quite clear from replay whether Chris Buescher was intentionally trying to retaliate on Kyle Busch or not. At any rate, the contact sparked a major wreck and ended the day for many drivers. The race went under a red flag while the mess was cleaned up.
After the restart, it was a caution-free affair for about 50 laps until Chase Briscoe spun and hit the wall. On the ensuing pit stops, Ryan Blaney dragged the air gun out of the pit box with him. The resulting penalty forced him to restart at the rear of the field and ensured he would be unable to challenge for the win. That left Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. to battle for the lead. Hamlin got the better jump as he had on seemingly every restart and held Truex off until about 30 to go. Truex was able to make the pass and drove away. After seven different winners in each of the first seven races, the No. 19 team became the first to get their second victory of the 2021 season.
Final Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 NASCAR Thoughts
This was a good race at the start as they were beating and banging while keeping it clean. That changed in the final stage as there were a ton of cautions. Nothing against cautions, but too many yellows can take away from the race and that is kind of what happened here. It was still a good race and plenty entertaining despite this and Martin Truex Jr. continued his recent dominance at “The Paperclip”. He has now was three of the last four Martinsville races. NASCAR fans can get excited for more short-track racing next week at Richmond Raceway.