Ryan Newman made the most of a chaotic green-white-checker finish in Martinsville to win his first Sprint Cup race of the season, usurping the dominant Hendrick duo of Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson who had led throughout.
Gordon spent most of the race up front until Lap 356, when Johnson took the lead, working his way up from the back of the field after receiving a black flag for speeding in pit lane on Lap 100. Denny Hamlin was briefly in the mix when he jumped both drivers during a caution caused by the spinning Travis Kvapil, but Johnson harrassed the #11 JGR car for 11 laps straight until eventually retaking the lead down the inside of Turns 1 and 2.
With only three laps to go, Hendrick were looking set for a perfect finish, a 1-2-3 result with Dale Earndhart Jr backing up the dominant duo of the #24 and #48, and what would also be their 200th victory. However David Reutimann threw them a curveball, parking his ailing car on track and bringing out another caution. This lined up a green-white-checker finish, and an over-eager attempt down the inside during the restart by MWR driver Clint Bowyer caused the leading Hendrick duo as well as Bowyer to spin and hit the wall, ruining their race and causing another caution period.
Newman however made no such mistakes on the following restart, passing AJ Allmendinger to take victory, with Earnhardt Jr holding on to third, followed home by Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr.
“We were not a dominate race car,” said Newman. “Clint [Bowyer] kind of cleared out Turn One for us and we were fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time.”
Despite what could be perceived as a rash move by Bowyer, Hendrick’s only surviving driver Earndhart Jr did not blame him for ruining the team’s weekend.
“I would like an explanation on why [Reutimann stopping on track] happened,” he said. “There doesn’t seem like there could be a logical reason for him to have to stop on the track.”
Reutimann was quick to retort however, saying he did what he could to avoid causing the caution that led to the Bowyer-Gordon-Johnson altercation.
“I would not have stopped on the freaking racetrack,” he said. “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. I just didn’t stop there intentionally.”
Despite the disappointing end for Hendrick, there was still good news as Earndhart Jr moves up to second in the standings, only 6 points behind leader Greg Biffle.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 3h26m12.000s 2. AJ Allmendinger Penske Dodge + 0.537s 3. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet + 1.147s 4. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Ford + 1.277s 5. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota + 1.559s 6. Denny Hamlin Gibbs Toyota + 1.730s 7. Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Chevrolet + 2.447s 8. Aric Almirola Petty Ford + 2.967s 9. Brad Keselowski Penske Dodge + 3.827s 10. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota + 17.795s 11. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford + 18.430s 12. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet + 28.538s 13. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford + 1 lap 14. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet + 1 lap 15. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford + 1 lap 16. Regan Smith Furniture Row Chevrolet + 2 laps 17. Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota + 2 laps 18. Brian Vickers Waltrip Toyota + 2 laps 19. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet + 2 laps 20. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt-Ganassi Chevrolet + 2 laps 21. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt-Ganassi Chevrolet + 3 laps 22. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet + 3 laps 23. Joey Logano Gibbs Toyota + 4 laps 24. David Ragan Front Row Ford + 4 laps 25. Casey Mears Germain Ford + 4 laps 26. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet + 5 laps 27. Travis Kvapil BK Toyota + 5 laps 28. David Gilliland Front Row Ford + 6 laps 29. Landon Cassill BK Toyota + 8 laps 30. David Stremme Inception Toyota + 9 laps 31. Hermie Sadler Childress Chevrolet + 10 laps 32. Ken Schrader FAS Lane Ford + 12 laps 33. Kurt Busch Phoenix Chevrolet + 18 laps Retirements: Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet 439 laps David Reutimann Baldwin Chevrolet 436 laps Kyle Busch Gibbs Toyota 435 laps JJ Yeley Robinson-Blakeney Toyota 359 laps Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet 256 laps Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 74 laps Michael McDowell Parsons Ford 60 laps Josh Wise Front Row Ford 49 laps Scott Riggs R3 Chevrolet 30 laps Reed Sorenson Turn One Chevrolet 25 laps