The NASCAR Cup Series Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 was historic. For the first time in 73 years and 142 races at Martinsville Speedway, NASCAR drivers competed on the Paperclip at night. And it was a dominating performance by Martin Truex Jr. who won in convincing fashion outlasting Ryan Blaney and Brad Keselowski.
Martin Truex Jr. wins in dominating style
Martin Truex Jr. now likes Martinsville. He hadn’t won in his previous 26 NASCAR Cup Series tries at the track until last fall when he led all stages and won. On Wednesday, things didn’t start off well but the end result was just the same as Truex captured the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 race in the first-ever night race at Martinsville.
Early in the race Truex sustained damage to the right front of his car. During the next pit stop, his crew cut away the damaged piece to prevent it from cutting the tires. It not only didn’t cut the tires, it kept them cooler for the long runs later in the race and were a decided advantage.
“You can see he’s been aggressive driving throughout the night. Those tires were cooler,” Fox Sports and former NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon said in the final laps.
Truex’s win was his first of 2020, the 27th of his career, and the seventh different driver to win a Cup Series race in 2020.
NASCAR makes historic announcement banning confederate flags
Just a couple of hours before the drivers made history turning their first night laps at Martinsville, NASCAR made a historic announcement when the organization said it was banning all confederate flags from future racing. In a statement, NASCAR said:
“The presence of the confederate flag at NASCAR events runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors, and our industry. Bringing people together around a love for racing and the community that it creates is what makes our fans and sport special. The display of the confederate flag will be prohibited from all NASCAR events and properties.”
The move comes just a couple days after driver Bubba Wallace was interviewed on CNN and told Don Lemon he thought the flags should be banned.
“No one should feel uncomfortable when they come to a NASCAR race. It starts with confederate flags. Get them out of here. They have no place for them.”
NASCAR’s Bubba Wallace drives Black Lives Matter car
Bubba Wallace has been vocal the last few weeks speaking on behalf of NASCAR when talking about the growing social unrest in the nation following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota. On Wednesday night in Virginia, the design of Wallace’s car did all the talking for him.
The No. 43 car of Wallace had an entirely different paint scheme. Instead of all the traditional sponsors that cover the vehicle from bumper to bumper, the all-black car had a simple yet much more poignant message.
The Black Lives Matter-themed vehicle featured the organization’s name over the rear wheels. The phrase “Compassion, Love, Understanding” were prominently featured on the hood and rear bumper. The top of the hood included a graphic of black and white hands interlocking, which according to Wallace was the suggestion of his girlfriend Amanda Carter.
While Wallace plans on returning to his standard car design in future races, the Black Lives Matter theme was another memorable moment to a very historic night for NASCAR in Martinsville. Wallace finished 11th.