Jimmie Johnson captured his 62nd career Sprint Cup Series victory on Sunday’s in the STP Gas Booster 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Johnson led 346 laps in route to his eighth win and 20th top-10 finish in 23 races at Martinsville.
“I feel like the fastest car won the race. It was a very standard Martinsville race; although I thought some guys might peel off and take tires. It was just a hard race. This race track is tough to get around.” Johnson said.
Johnson started from the pole and dominated another race at this speedway. Now only Richard Petty (15) and Darrell Waltrip (11) have more wins.
Clint Bowyer finished second, Jeff Gordon third, Kasey Kahne fourth and Kyle Busch finished fifth.
“We had a good car all weekend long so it’s incredibly disappointing to be honest to have such a good car. Second is decent in this sport, but it still sucks.” Bowyer said.
Heading into the final laps it looked like another repeat from last years race with Johnson, Bowyer and Gordon fighting for the race win. But Johnson got a great restart with eight laps to go and kept enough space between himself and Bowyer. Gordon was also unable to make a run on Bowyer for second place in the closing laps.
“Well, we just didn’t need those cautions there at the end. I made a mistake on pit road and got us way behind. But, what an incredible effort for this Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet team.” Gordon said.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., the points leader heading into Martinsville had some late race contact with Danica Patrick and finished in 25th, 2-laps down.
Patrick, who went two laps down at one part of the race, battled back onto the lead lap and finished a very respectable 12th place.
“We obviously went down real early with that spin and then were two laps down at one point. So I feel that is one of the things that I am most proud about is coming back from two laps down and being on the last lap. Then grabbing a 12th place finish in the end was good and I think it was the right call to stay out because I don’t think tires were quite worth enough to pit, so it was a good run today.” Patrick said.
Johnson took over the series points standings by 6 points over Brad Keselowski and 12 over teammate Earnhardt Jr.
“We had a great weekend, probably the most calm, relaxed thought-out we’ve had. We really fell back on our experience and stayed committed to that,” said Johnson, who took over the Sprint Cup points lead with the win. “In the race we had to adjust on the fly. The track changed more than we thought it would. And then the 15 (Clint Bowyer) and the 24 (Gordon) showed up and I had my hands full.”
|Unofficial Race Results|
|STP Gas Booster 500, Martinsville Speedway|
|12||32||10||Danica Patrick #||Chevrolet||32|
|24||17||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||20|
|25||20||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #||Ford||19|
|26||14||42||Juan Pablo Montoya||Chevrolet||18|
|40||12||56||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||4|