It looked like it was going to be Hendricks Motorsports 200th win, it looked like it was going to be a battle between two of the Martinsville greats, with Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson battling side by side.
Then, David Reutimann’s car, which had been limping around the half-mile track known as the paperclip, coasted to a stop right before turns one and two.
With just three laps to go, the sixth caution flag flew, changing the race from that point on. Because so few laps remained, the race would go into NASCAR’s version of over-time with a green-white-checkered finish.
“It was [going to be a shootout between Johnson and Gordon] it was just circumstances with the 10, doing what he did,” said Ryan Newman to Fox pit reporters in victory lane. “It was an impressive day for us.”
Before the race got restarted, Gordon and Johnson stayed out while most of the leaders came in for fresh tires.
On the restart, Clint Bowyer, who restarted third, jumped to the inside of Gordon, who had Johnson racing him on the outside. The three didn’t make it past turn one.
Johnson’s car went high out of the groove and spun into the wall, and Bowyer got spun from behind. Meanwhile, at the bottom of the track, Ryan Newman drove past Gordon and Bowyer to take the lead.
“The 15 car kind of dive-bombed me there, and I’m sure he figured that 12 tires were better than four,” Johnson told Fox reporters after the race. “It is what it is and it’s short track racing.”
The seventh caution flag flew for the wreck in turns one and two, but Newman would hold off a drag race from A.J. Allmendinger on the second green-white-checkered and would hold on for the win.
“Not a dominant racecar today,” Newman said. “Clint kind of cleared out turn one for us, we just happened to be at the right place at the right time.”
Sunday was Newman’s 16th career NASCAR victory and his first victory in 2012 along with his first ever victory at Martinsville Speedway.
“Awesome finish for us, circumstances put us in the right position,” Newman said. ”Man there was a long green flag run and my foot was getting ready to retire.”
Much of the day was dominated by Gordon and Hendricks drivers. Three seperate times the top-three drivers on track were all owned by Hendricks drivers. In the end only one Hendrick driver would end up in the top-ten, and that was Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished third.
Kasey Kahne started on pole, but he didn’t lead the first lap, as Kevin Harvick, who won this event last year, took the lead and would go on to lead the first 21 laps, from there Gordon took control of the race.
Gordon led a total of six times for 328 total laps, at Martinsville, the only times that he gave up the lead during the race was when he either pitted or when he was passed by a teammate on the track.
When Reutimann stopped on the track, Gordon had just re-taken the lead from his teammate, Johnson.
“Man, I didn’t want to see that last caution, we had such a great battle with the 48,” Gordon said to Fox reporters after the race.
Both of the Hendricks drivers would finish the race outside the top-ten with Gordon finishing 14th and Johnson finishing 12th.
Rounding out the top five today was Allmendinger in second, Earnhardt Jr. in third, Matt Kenseth in fourth and Martin Truex Jr. finishing fifth.
The series will take a week off before the next race.
Greg Biffle held on to the points lead today, despite finishing 13th.
Next race: Samsung 500 from Texas Motor Speedway, April 14, 2012.
- Ryan Newman
- A.J. Allmendinger
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Matt Kenseth
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Denny Hamlin
- Tony Stewart
- Aric Almirola
- Brad Keselowski
- Clint Bowyer
- Carl Edwards
- Jimmie Johnson
- Greg Biffle
- Jeff Gordon
- Marcos Ambrose
- Regan Smith
- Bobby Labonte
- Brian Vickers
- Kevin Harvick
- Jamie McMurray
- Juan Pablo Montoya
- Jeff Burton
- Joey Logano
- David Ragan
- Casey Mears
- Paul Menard
- Travis Kvapil
- David Gilliland
- Landon Cassill
- David Stremme
- Hermie Sadler
- Ken Schrader
- Kurt Busch
- Dave Blaney
- David Reutimann
- Kyle Busch
- J.J. Yeley
- Kasey Kahne
- Joe Nemechek
- Michael McDowell
- Josh Wise
- Scott Riggs
- Reed Sorenson