When we think of Martinsville Speedway, one thing comes to mind. Tempers. If I were to think of more than just tempers when it comes to Martinsville, I would think about cars beating and banging. I would also think about crashes. We saw all of those three things happen at Martinsville yesterday, and boy did the drivers put on a show.
Hendrick Motorsports dominated almost all of the race. Jeff Gordon led a race-high 322 laps. Jimmie Johnson would also find his way up to the front late in the race. Johnson took the lead from Gordon on Lap 356, and would lead the next 112 laps. Dale Earnhardt Jr also led for 2 laps as well. Kasey Kahne was the only Hendrick Motorsports driver who did not lead any laps, despite getting the pole for the race.
While it was looking like Hendrick Motorsports was going to celebrate its 200th victory in the Sprint Cup Series, David Reutimann had other plans apparently. The Tommy Baldwin #10 car was having some sort of sway bar/engine issues, and apparently had troubles getting the car to get on pit road. He ulimately blew his engine with 4 to go, and just rolling to a stop coming to Turn 1. That brought out the caution. The Hendrick drivers were definitely upset.
The Green-White-Checkered came out, and boy did we see some moves being made. On the restart, the #15 car of Clint Bowyer decides to pull a move on Jeff Gordon low. What Clint Bowyer forgot, was the fact that by making the move, he had no real estate to make the car stay to the bottom. Thus, he bumps into Jeff Gordon, who bumps into Jimmie Johnson, and causes a crash involving both Gordon and Johnson, as well as Bowyer, Allmendinger, Kesoloweski, and Earnhardt Jr.
According to Bowyer, he got a tap from race winner Ryan Newman that shoved Bowyer down the low lane, and that caused the whole mess.
It was a battle between Ryan Newman, AJ Allmendinger, and Dale Jr. Despite Junior being in contention, he would ultimately have nothing for Ryan Newman, as he went on to win the Goodys 500. AJ Allmendinger finished 2nd, and clinched his best finish ever in his Sprint Cup career. Rounding out the top-5 were Matt Kenseth, and Martin Truex Jr.
“It was really important to me to not spin my tires and get a good start and race AJ and try to eliminate the No. 88 [Earnhardt] from the race for the win.” Newman told reporters after the race.
Allmendinger was happy for both Newman, and his team. He told reporters he respected Newman’s clean racing to the finish. ”He ran me really clean. He didn’t shove me up the race track like he could have. He gave me the opportunity to beat him on the outside there. We were just not turning good enough in the center [of the corners] there on the restart.
When Dale Earnhardt Jr spoke with reporters, he was more worried about talking about what in the world happened with David Reutimann. ”I would like an explanation on why that happened, from him, his crew chief, somebody”. ”But there’s no … it doesn’t seem like there could be a logical reason for him to end up stopped on the track. He was running around slow; you got a problem, you really … get down and get on pit road. I don’t believe he had any trouble getting down. When we went by him the first time, he was low. I would like to hear a good excuse, to be honest with you, because I’m sure it would be laughable.”
Earnhardt Jr was very hesitant in his choice of words to the media regarding Reutimann.
What happened to Reutimann you ask? Reutimann was called to the NASCAR Hauler to give NASCAR officials an explanation of why he stayed out.
When interviewed by reporters, Reutimann offered an apology to all drivers affected. ”I just hate that I was involved in anything that changed the complexion of the race, so I’ve got to apologize to the guys that it affected”. ”It broke a tie rod or something like that. I was just trying to limp around there. We needed to finish the next couple of laps to try to stay in the top 35.”
I’ll discuss the Bowyer and Reutimann incidents in separate blog posts.
For the rest of results of the race, please go HERE.