Martin Truex Jr. threw another shovel of dirt on his one-time reputation as a short-track lost soul on Wednesday night as he came on strong in the late going and won the Blu-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at the .526-mile Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
Truex, the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion, took the lead for the first time in race on Lap 370 and led the rest of the way to get his first victory of the season and the 27th of his career.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver got the victory even though he was penalized entering pit road early in the race and also had to have some front bodywork cut away.
Finishing second -- more than four seconds back -- was Team Penske's Ryan Blaney.
Penske drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano finished third and fourth, respectively.
Fifth was Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports.
In Truex's first 80 starts at tracks that measure less than a mile around, he had zero victories and his average finish was 19th. In his last six starts at the shorties, he has won four times. Two of those four victories have been at Martinsville, where he triumphed last October.
The race was the first on a Wednesday night at Martinsville. It was the seventh since the two-plus-month, pandemic-forced hiatus, and it was the 11th of the season. The race was run without fans in the grandstands because of the pandemic.
For a good hour or so, it looked as though Jimmie Johnson's 105-race winless streak would come to an end. Johnson, a seven-time series champion whose last victory came in 2017, took the lead on Lap 202. He held it for the rest of the 130-lap second stage. But early in the third and final stage -- on Lap 273 -- Johnson was passed by Blaney, and he never really threatened again.
Johnson, who drives for Hendrick Motorsports, led more laps on Wednesday (70) than in the other 10 races of the season combined but finished 10th.