It became clear very early in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series event at Martinsville Speedway that it would be very difficult to score the victory, without finding some track position near the end of the race.
As it turns out, that’s exactly what had to be done to score the victory, as Kyle Larson and Cliff Daniels elected to make a two-tire call on the final pit stop of the event, which came with 55 laps to go.
Larson would restart the race from fifth place, behind the four drivers that elected to stay on the track and maintain the best track position possible; those being Joey Logano, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Aric Almirola, and Denny Hamlin.
While the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion was able to make quick work of Hamlin, Almirola, and Stenhouse, he had more trouble with the defending NASCAR Cup Series champion, Joey Logano, taking more than 20 laps to run him down.
Then, following the theme of the event, passing the Team Penske Ford Mustang was going to be another story, as the No. 22 was able to rebound on the outside lane exiting the corner, just enough to keep the Hendrick driver behind.
However, after a fierce battle for several laps, Larson chose to run Logano up the track in the center of the corner, allowing him to get clear of the Verizon 5G-sponsored entry with relative ease, despite some minor contact.
From that point forward, the hopes of catching Larson, who averaged a running position outside the top five throughout the entire day, were gone, as the HendrickCars.com Chevrolet blasted to a four-second advantage at the conclusion of 400 laps.
Joey Logano kept hold of second place, despite a hard-charging Martin Truex, Jr. rapidly closing behind him, only to claim third. Denny Hamlin, much like his teammate in the No. 19, scored his first top-five of the year in fourth.
Chase Briscoe, competing for the second straight week with a broken finger, rounded out the top five. Aric Almirola was sixth, while Ryan Blaney, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Bubba Wallace, and Chase Elliott rounded out the top-10.
Elliott scored a top-10 result in the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro after running outside of the top-20 for much of the event’s 400 laps.
Ryan Preece led the first 135 laps of Sunday’s NOCO 400 at Martinsville but was then forced to the rear of the field, after speeding while exiting pit road, due to a miscommunication that led the driver to think he could floor it from the second stall on pit exit.
The Stewart-Haas Racing driver was never able to fully recover from the penalty, recording a finish of 15th place, serving to be a heartbreaker for the Berlin, Connecticut native. The event featured ten lead changes among 10 different drivers.
Heading to the series’ next event at Talladega Superspeedway, Christopher Bell continued to lead the NASCAR Cup Series point standings, by five markers over Ross Chastain. Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson, and Martin Truex, Jr. complete the top five.