Bathurst 1000-winning race engineer James Small has helped Martin Truex Jr. become the first repeat NASCAR winner in 2021.
On Monday AEST, Truex Jr. passed Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin on Lap 485 to win the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
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It marked the 2017 champion’s third win in his last four starts at Martinsville.
Truex Jr., who won at Phoenix Speedway last month, ended a streak of seven different winners to start the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season.
Winning burnouts for Truex Jr. Pic: @ToyotaRacing
It was the 29th career win for Truex Jr., and the third for Melbourne-born Small.
Small notably skippered Ford Performance Racing's stunning Bathurst win for Mark Winterbottom and Steven Richards in 2013.
"I can’t believe we won again here, after not having the dominant car today, for sure," Truex Jr. said.
"It was a lot of fun there at the end racing with Denny… we raced clean, and we were able to come out on top. It’s definitely difficult.
Truex Jr. celebrates his win Pic: @MartinsvilleSwy
"We try to race hard, race clean. He was making it difficult on me… I was loose coming off the corners. His car got tight, so we kind of had opposite things going on, and it made it difficult to pass.
It was also the fifth win for Truex Jr. in his last 11-short track starts.
Hamlin led 276 laps in the race, which featured 15 cautions for 102 laps.
Hamlin was the key man for much of the race, only to be undone by the green-flag run to the flag, with Truex Jr. and reigning champion Chase Elliott demoting him to third.
Small with his crew Pic: @james_small
The race also featured a 12-car pile-up following contact between Chris Buescher and Kyle Busch.
The race was red-flagged for nearly 22 minutes, with the 500-lapper having already been shifted to Sunday after it was halted by rain after 42 laps on Saturday.
Hamlin leads Truex Jr. ahead of this weekend’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway in Richmond, Virginia.
Small’s former Supercars team, Tickford Racing, will continue its 2021 Repco Supercars Championship campaign at this weekend’s Beaurepaires Tasmania SuperSprint.
The event will be broadcast live on Foxtel and will be streamed on Kayo.