Newman Dodges Green-White-Checker Melee To Win In Martinsville


Ryan Newman celebrates on the tight Martinsvile front straight (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Ryan Newman celebrates on the tight Martinsvile front straight (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

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