[media-credit id=100 align=”alignright” width=”225″][/media-credit]Jimmie Johnson continues his dominance at Martinsville winning from the pole position in the Tums 500. Johnson led 193 laps en route to his seventh win and 19th top ten finish in just 22 starts at the legendary track. More importantly, he leaves Martinsville with a two point lead over Brad Keselowski.
“We just had a great race car. And I think we’ve also learned our lesson here in the past in not pitting late and that certainly came into play and we made the right decision there. I’m so torn with emotion right now with winning here; and I’m so happy to be in the point lead.” Johnson said.
Keselowski minimized the expected damage in the points standings today with a fantastic run from the 32nd starting spot. The Miller Lite driver worked his way through the field and was leading on restart near the end of the race but had to settle for a sixth place finish. The Penske team seemed pleased to come away with minimal loss considering Johnson’s amazing stats at this track.
Kyle Busch ends up with a hard fought second place, with Hendrick driver Kasey Kahne , who ran consistently in the top ten all day, taking the checkered in third spot.
Richard Petty Motorsports driver Aric Almirola drove his No. 43 Gwaltney Ford to a solid fourth place finish, . Aric said after the race, “That was a good run for us. Todd Parrott made a gutsy call there. We were horrible at the beginning of this race, I mean horrible. I don’t know how we didn’t go several laps down, but we fought hard all day.” The Richard Petty team recently swapped personnel between the No.43 of Almirloa, and the No.9 driven by Marcos Ambrose. The move seems to be paying off for Almirola, as he has consistently ran stronger than before the switch.
Chase contender Clint Bowyer shows that he is in this until the end with another strong effort in his No.15 Micheal Waltirp Racing Toyota. Bowyer led four times today for a total of 151 laps and wound up a respectable fifth at the end of the day. Bowyer leaves Martinsville with a 26 point deficit to leader Johnson.
The big loser today was Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin. Hamlin overcame a early penalty and fought his way back toward the front, but an electrical problem that caused the car to shut down and bring out a yellow on lap 393, sent him to the garage area for repairs where he lost 33 laps. Hamlin ended the day 34 laps off the pace and finished a dismal 33rd. Hamlin now trails Johnson by 49 points and would appear that once again late in the season, his championship hopes have ended.
It would appear we now have a two man race for the championship. Johnson and Keselowski have been the most consistent competitors in the seven Chase races so far. Bowyer and Kahne still have an outside chance, but will need the two leaders to stumble in the final three races. Based on the results this season that is not likely to happen.
|Unofficial Race Results|
|Tums Fast Relief 500, Martinsville Speedway|
|13||–||22||Sam Hornish Jr.||Dodge||0|
|21||–||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||23|
|23||–||56||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||21|
|34||–||33||Stephen Leicht *||Chevrolet||10|
|38||–||26||Josh Wise *||Ford||6|