Alex Bowman Wins Martinsville Cup Event; Championship Four Set For Season Finale

Denny Hamlin(11) attempts to stop Alex Bowman’s (48) celebration after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway Sunday (Photo: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Denny Hamlin provided the perfect capstone to a day of banged-up stock cars, hurt feelings and crushed dreams.

Alex Bowman took the checkered flag in Sunday’s Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway after sliding up into Hamlin’s race-leading Toyota on Lap 494 of 501 and knocking Hamlin’s car up the track and into the outside wall. 

As Bowman tried to start a burnout to celebrate his fourth NASCAR Cup Series victory of the season and his first at the .526-mile short track, Hamlin drove to the frontstretch and expressed his displeasure by twice blocking the progress of Bowman’s No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

“I just got loose in,” Bowman said of the accident that gave him the lead. “I got in too deep (into Turn 3), knocked him out of the way and literally let him have the lead back. For anybody that wants to think I was trying to crash him, obviously that wasn’t the case, considering I literally gave up the lead at Martinsville to give it back to him.

“He’s been on the other side of that. He’s crashed guys here for wins. I hate doing it. Obviously, I don’t want to crash somebody. I just got in, got underneath him, spun him out… Regardless, we get a free grandfather clock (trophy), which is pretty special.”

By the time Bowman took the checkered flag, his teammate, defending Cup champion Chase Elliott already had clinched a spot in next Sunday’s Championship 4 race at Phoenix by sweeping the first two stages of the event. 

Elliott joins another teammate, two-time Round of 8 winner Kyle Larson, Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. in the quartet that will vie for the series title at the one-mile track in the Sonoran Desert. 

With a damaged car that had slapped the outside wall at the exit of Turn 2 on Lap 471, Truex eked out his berth in the championship race by three points over Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch, who finished second to Truex’s fourth but lost his slim pre-race advantage in the first two stages.

Eliminated from the Playoff with Busch were the Team Penske Fords of Brad Keselowski (third Sunday and eight points below the cutoff), Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano. 

Hamlin, who started from the rear after his car twice failed pre-race inspection, had enough of a margin entering the race that his 24th-place finishing position didn’t cost him a chance at the championship. But that was little consolation for the lost opportunity to add to his collection of five grandfather clocks.

“He’s just a hack,” Hamlin said of the race winner. “Just an absolute hack. He gets his ass kicked by his teammates every week. He’s (expletive) terrible. He’s just terrible. He sees one opportunity, he takes it. 

“Obviously, he’s got the fast car of the week and he runs 10th. He didn’t want to race us there. We had a good, clean race. I moved up as high as I could on the race track to give him all the room I could—he still can’t drive.” 

Lane choice helped Truex gain the final four after Aric Almirola got loose and forced him up the track on Lap 471, costing Truex positions and the eventual scrape with the wall. Truex gained spots on the subsequent restart on Lap 478 and chose the outside lane—directly behind Busch—for the final restart on Lap 500.

“I have no idea how we finished fourth,” Truex said of the contact with the wall. “I’m going to buy a lottery ticket on the way home.”

Even though Busch struggled with the handling of his No. 18 Toyota throughout the afternoon at Martinsville, he blamed his 28th-place finish last weekend at Kansas for his failure to advance to the Championship 4 Round. 

“We just missed last week,” said the two-time series champion—and the only active driver with more than one title. “That’s where we lost all the ground. Could have come in here with 15 more points, we would have been fine on the cut. Just wasn’t it. Wasn’t meant to be. Obviously, it was Truex’s day. We had a Hail Mary opportunity there at the end. Just didn’t materialize.

“All in all, just proud of the effort for sure. We slung everything and anything at this thing today, couldn’t really make it come alive. Great effort. That was there, for sure. We’ve just got to get better, everybody included, the whole team, in order to be able to go race with the best and race for a championship. We’re not going to do that this year.”

Neither will Bowman, who was eliminated from the Playoffs in the Round of 12. But the victory at NASCAR’s most venerable track, which will celebrate its 75th anniversary next year, was ample compensation. 

Not to mention the free clock.

NASCAR Cup Series Race – 73rd Annual Xfinity 500

Martinsville Speedway

Martinsville, Virginia

Sunday, October 31, 2021

               1. (13)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 501.

               2. (7)  Kyle Busch (P), Toyota, 501.

               3. (6)  Brad Keselowski (P), Ford, 501.

               4. (4)  Martin Truex Jr. (P), Toyota, 501.

               5. (11)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 501.

               6. (23)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 501.

               7. (10)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 501.

               8. (28)  Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 501.

               9. (15)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 501.

               10. (5)  Joey Logano (P), Ford, 501.

               11. (8)  Ryan Blaney (P), Ford, 501.

               12. (9)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 501.

               13. (14)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 501.

               14. (1)  Kyle Larson (P), Chevrolet, 501.

               15. (21)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 501.

               16. (2)  Chase Elliott (P), Chevrolet, 501.

               17. (12)  Christopher Bell, Toyota, 501.

               18. (18)  Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 501.

               19. (25)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 501.

               20. (32)  Anthony Alfredo #, Ford, 501.

               21. (29)  Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 501.

               22. (22)  Chase Briscoe #, Ford, 501.

               23. (24)  Cole Custer, Ford, 501.

               24. (3)  Denny Hamlin (P), Toyota, 501.

               25. (17)  Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 501.

               26. (19)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 499.

               27. (16)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 498.

               28. (20)  Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 498.

               29. (30)  BJ McLeod(i), Ford, 496.

               30. (31)  Cody Ware(i), Chevrolet, 495.

               31. (35)  Justin Haley(i), Chevrolet, 492.

               32. (27)  Ryan Newman, Ford, 491.

               33. (37)  Garrett Smithley(i), Chevrolet, 490.

               34. (36)  Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 483.

               35. (33)  Josh Bilicki(i), Ford, 483.

               36. (26)  Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, Brakes, 414.

               37. (38)  Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, Engine, 206.

               38. (34)  Joey Gase(i), Chevrolet, Electrical, 10.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  70.968 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 42 Mins, 48 Secs. Margin of Victory:  .472 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  15 for 91 laps.

Lead Changes:  15 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   K. Larson (P) 1-55;C. Elliott (P) 56-62;K. Larson (P) 63-84;C. Elliott (P) 85-199;M. Truex Jr. (P) 200-204;C. Elliott (P) 205-341;J. Logano (P) 342-350;C. Elliott (P) 351-380;A. Dillon 381-385;M. Truex Jr. (P) 386-388;D. Hamlin (P) 389-437;M. Truex Jr. (P) 438;D. Hamlin (P) 439-477;A. Bowman 478;D. Hamlin (P) 479-493;A. Bowman 494-501.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Chase Elliott (P) 4 times for 289 laps; Denny Hamlin (P) 3 times for 103 laps; Kyle Larson (P) 2 times for 77 laps; Alex Bowman 2 times for 9 laps; Martin Truex Jr. (P) 3 times for 9 laps; Joey Logano (P) 1 time for 9 laps; Austin Dillon 1 time for 5 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 9,5,19,24,2,18,3,48,22,10

Stage #2 Top Ten: 9,48,24,19,11,10,20,2,18,1


  1. I’m sure Hamlin was invited to the Nascar Hauler for a chat. I’ll be very surprised if penalties are announced on Tuesday.

  2. Great race, Bowman dumping Hamlin was the icing on the cake. Loved Hamlin’s remarks concerning Bowman about he’s nothing but a hack, with no talent. Well Denny, Bowman’s got 4 wins this year as opposed to your 2. And by the way, who took home the Grandfather clock? It wasn’t you. Great job by Bowman and the 48 team. 2 Hendricks and 2 Gibbs cars competing for the championship, my bet is on Elliott

  3. wmass01013 says

    Love the Alex Bowman this isn’t Bowman Gray Stadium comment after the Victory Lane Incident with Angry Denny!

  4. Hamlin’s language was inappropriate these drivers are paid millions to represent their sponsors and to drop the f bomb is ridiculous.

  5. Bill Realist says

    Not sure if it’s stress from the new team but Hamlin looks gaunt and sick

  6. Denny must have forgotten about dumping Elliott at Martinsville. Now the shoes on the other foot he cry’s like a baby. Karma’s a bitch.

  7. I guess that fool Hamlin conveniently forgot what he did to Chase Elliot exactly 4 years ago at Martinsville. He spun Chase with an obvious push from behind; a blatant spin-your-competitor-out-of-the-way-in-order-to-get-ahead move. In yesterday’s spin it was just a racing accident. So, Hamlin should keep his mouth shut.

  8. Earl, we’re thinking alike. I didn’t see you that had just posted the same point.

  9. It’s interesting that “dump him for the lead” is OK at the Cup level, but not at many local short track events (including those held at Stafford).

  10. I was thinking the same thing! The highest form of racing( Cup) allows drivers to dump others all the time with no penalty. Why is that? Nascars good old boys philosophy is just that old! Maybe If they sent drivers to the rear for such actions might accually make for better racing! There needs to be more respect. Also you might think I’m a Hamlin fan but I’m actually a Bowman fan.With the way nascar runs things I would have done the same thing except I would waited until the last lap.

  11. Doug Ferraguto says

    I agree, it’s stupid that they don’t penalize drivers at the cup level like they do at Stafford and Waterford.

  12. Nerfbarsmurf says

    Nascar is the wild west. All the series. You can just dumb anybody for the win. They did punish the 00 for his revenge dumb of the 52. That’s the fun part about being in the stands at Martinsville. Everybody is racing hard out there. Not just turning laps. My local tracks pavement or dirt don’t reward dirt driving! With that said I don’t think the 48 wrecked the 11 on purpose. He already passed on the opportunity a lap of two before that. Was faster than the leader for sure.

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