Four time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, Jeff Gordon, scores his first win of the season and eighth career win at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday in the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500. He is now tied with teammate, Jimmie Johnson, for the most wins at Martinsville among active drivers.
Gordon led a total of 78 laps and passed Matt Kenseth in the closing laps en route to victory. As he pulled into victory lane, his No. 24 Drive to End hunger Chevrolet looked like a war torn relic, beaten and battered from another Martinsville battle. A battle that was slowed by 17 cautions, signifying how rough and tumble the racing was today.
Gordon also managed to close the gap in the points standings. He now sits in third place, 27 points behind Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson who are tied for the lead. He has now secured a spot in the 2014 Sprint All-star race.
Gordon talked about today’s win, ”Oh my gosh this meant so much, I mean I feel like we worked so hard, and many weekends we’ve left the racetrack looking at one another going what do we have to do? We’ve had racecars we’ve had pitstops, we’ve had strategy, I feel like I’ve had days where I’ve done my part, but just couldn’t get it all lined up. Today, we come to this race with a lot of confidence, you know this is a great rack for us the 24 team, for me personally, these guys, Alan especially, give me a great racecar all weekend long, I was a little disappointed in myself qualifying, I feel like we should have done better job than that, but it made up for t getting that number two pit stall. That was sort of turnaround for our weekend in many ways, or just that kind of added bonus, and that paid of for us today as well.”
Kenseth came into today’s race trailing Johnson by four points. He led 202 laps today en route to a second place finish. Kenseth said, “I mean, I think we led the most laps and finished second. The only guy happier is Jeff. Again you’re always s a little disappointed when your crew puts you out front at the end and you can’t hold on.”
Johnson was touted as the favorite to win all week. Many practically had has name engraved on the trophy. The five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion ran strong all day, leading 123 laps. He ended the day in fifth place, a good day by many standards, mediocre for Johnson.
Kenseth and Johnson now head to Texas Motor Speedway tied atop the championship standings. Gordon and Harvick 27 and 28 points back respectively.
Kyle Busch who finished 15th, now sits 36 points back and sees his championship hopes slipping away. One glimmer of hope, however, is that the series now head to Texas Motor Speedway where he won earlier this season.
Clint Bowyer had his best finish of the Chase with a solid sixth place effort. 55 points out of the lead, however, Bowyer will need a lot of things to go his way to have a shot at the title. Bowyer talked about how tough the outside lane was day, “Yeah, I mean, it was – it’s just the nature of the beast here. You know, we got jumbled up there going for the inside. The 48 was very, very aggressive for the point leader to be dive bombing to the inside. I was all over the brakes to keep from running him over a couple times. But that’s how important it is to get to the inside on these restarts.”