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Truex outlasts teammate Hamlin to win again at Martinsville

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Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Martin Truex Jr. (19) celebrates with the winners' trophy after winning the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Va., Sunday, April 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Martin Truex Jr. admits to being surprised by his success at Martinsville Speedway.

Truex won a stirring, laps-long duel for the lead with teammate Denny Hamlin in the rain-delayed NASCAR Cup Series race Sunday night, winning for the third time in the last four stops at the 0.526-mile oval — the oldest and shortest in the series.

“This place has become a playground for us I guess,” Truex said in Victory Lane. “We didn’t have the best car all day, but we just kept working on it and never quit on it.”

Truex, who nudged Hamlin repeatedly in the turns and tried to get to his inside on the straightaways without success, finally made the pass with 15 laps to go, ducking underneath Hamlin coming out of the second turn. He sailed off to victory without another challenge as Hamlin and Chase Elliott battled the rest of the way for second.

Truex became the first repeat winner in NASCAR's top series this season.

The race was rained out after 42 laps Saturday night, and was completed as the second part of a doubleheader that started with the completion of the rain-delayed Xfinity Series race from Friday night.

Elliott, who won here last fall on his way to winning the series championship, held off Hamlin for second. Hamlin was third, followed by William Byron and Kyle Larson.

"That was a lot of fun there at the end, racing with Denny," Truex said about his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate. “We raced clean and we were able to come out on top."