Newman steals win at Martinsville|
Martinsville, VA (Sports Network) - Ryan Newman denied Hendrick Motorsports
its milestone 200th win in NASCAR's premier series by taking Sunday's Goody's
Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
Newman bounced back from an early-race pit-road speeding penalty and then
benefited from a crash involving Hendrick drivers Jimmie Johnson and Jeff
Gordon after the restart of the first green-white-checkered finish.
Johnson and Gordon dominated the race by leading a combined 440 laps. Johnson
held the top position when a caution came for David Reutimann's car that
stalled on the track. NASCAR had already black-flagged Reutimann and ordered
him to pit for his slow pace. The caution set up the first two-lap overtime
After the restart, Clint Bowyer dipped below Johnson and Gordon and made it
three-wide for the lead in turn one, but all three drivers made contact and
spun around, allowing Newman to move to the front. A.J. Allmendinger slipped
into second. Newman had bumped Bowyer from behind while they were heading into
Newman held off Allmendinger during the second and last green-white-checkered
attempt to claim his 16th career Sprint Cup Series win but his first since
last July at New Hampshire. He also scored his first victory at this 0.526-
mile, paperclip-shaped racetrack.
"No doubt an impressive day for us," said Newman, who led just the final 12
laps. "For me to take us out of the game, and we ended up going a lap down
because of my speeding penalty, the guys did an awesome job in giving us the
car to make the changes.
"We were not a dominant race car today, but we put ourselves in contention.
The way the strategy and everything worked out, coming in for two tires
[during the final round of pit stops] and Clint kind of clearing out turn one
for us, we were fortunate to be in the right place at the right time."
Allmendinger, who continues to seek his first Sprint Cup win, finished 0.3
seconds behind Newman.
"I knew I had a shot, but Ryan had been really good all day," Allmendinger
said. "I knew being on the bottom, and as tight as I was anyway on new tires,
it was going to be tough to get around. But he ran me really clean. He didn't
shove me up the racetrack like he could have. He gave me the opportunity to
beat him on the outside there. We just were not turning good enough in the
center there on the restart. But we had a shot at it. That's all you can ask
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the highest finisher among the four Hendrick drivers
with his third place run. Earnhardt Jr. led three laps right before the
halfway point. His winless streak in Sprint Cup is now 135 races.
"It's disappointing for everybody to run as good as we did today and not
finish up there," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I know Jeff is especially disappointed,
because of the way his year's been going. And I've got a real good idea of
what his opinion is about that."
Earnhardt Jr. finished second to Kevin Harvick in last year's spring race at
Martinsville. Harvick passed Earnhardt Jr. for the lead with just four laps
remaining in that event.
Gordon led 328 laps in this race, which was extended to 515 laps due to the
last two cautions. He ran out of fuel during the final caution and ended up
finishing one lap behind in 14th.
"It was not like [Bowyer] to do that," Gordon said about the first green-white
checkered attempt. "He said he got a hit from behind from [Newman]...When I
saw him go down to the inside of me I knew we were all in trouble. All I could
do was just hold on tight. [Johnson] couldn't go anywhere, and I couldn't go
anywhere. He was just coming with so much speed."
Johnson finished 12th in what he had hoped would've been the 200th win for
team owner Rick Hendrick.
"It's just unfortunate with something stupid, last-ditch effort, dive-bomb or
something along those lines wipes you out," he said. "But when you race long
enough, you know that stuff happens. My frustration and certainly Jeff's is to
be the class of the field all day long and be up front and have something
stupid like this take us out is frustrating. We wanted to get this 200th win
for Rick real bad, and we could have been 1-2 easily."
Matt Kenseth finished fourth, followed by Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin.
Tony Stewart, who won last weekend's race-shortened race at California,
finished seventh. Stewart also won the fall event here last October.
Aric Almirola placed eighth and Brad Keselowski took the ninth position.
Bowyer completed the top-10.
"Three of those Hendrick cars were the class of the field all day long,"
Bowyer said. "I don't know what the hell the 10 car [Reutimann] was doing. He
drove around there for 10 laps with no brakes and finally just stopped. That
Reutimann was ordered to the NASCAR hauler to discuss the incident with race
"I would have limped it around there and come to pit road, which is what I was
trying to do," he said. "The thing quit going down the back straightaway, and
it shut off."
Kasey Kahne, the driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet for Hendrick, started on the
pole but suffered engine failure at the mid-point. He finished 38th in what
has already been a frustrating start to his first season with Hendrick.
Despite a 13th-place finish, Greg Biffle remained atop the point standings.
Biffle holds a six-point advantage over Earnhardt Jr. Four drivers -- Stewart,
Kenseth, Truex and Harvick -- are each 12 markers behind the leader.
Harvick finished two laps down in 19th.
04/01 19:42:28 ET