GORDON ENDS WINLESS DROUGHT AT MARTINSVILLE
Jeff Gordon won his eigth race at Martinsville Speedway while Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth are tied at the top of the Chase standings (photo courtesy: Chris Trotman, GETTY IMAGES SPORT)
Jeff Gordon broke a long drought at Martinsville Speedway Sunday afternoon.
It was Gordon’s eighth Martinsville victory, but his first since winning this race in the fall of 2005. It was his first win of the season.
“This is a special win for many reasons. It’s Martinsville. That grandfather clock (winner’s trophy) is special. It’s a historical track. It’s been good to me. There’s a lot of meaning to winning at this track,” said Gordon.
“Really why it’s going to stick with me is, it’s been a tough year. There’s no better time to win races than right now.”
Matt Kenseth, who led a race-high 202 laps, finished second, just over a half-second behind Gordon. Kenseth’s second combined with Jimmie Johnson’s fifth, moved the pair into a tie for the Chase For The NASCAR Sprint Cup points lead. The Chase For The NASCAR Sprint Cup will culminate at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 17.
Kenseth said it was difficult to be too disappointed finishing second to Gordon.
“Whenever your team puts you in front for that last run and you’re out there leading, you get beat, you’re always a little bit disappointed,” said Kenseth. “I just got beat honestly by experience and a better driver of this track.”
It was Kenseth’s second career runner-up finish at Martinsville and his ninth top-10 finish in 28 starts on the half-mile oval.
Clint Bowyer finished third, followed by Brad Keselowski and Johnson, who led 123 laps, but did not challenge for the lead in the final 200 laps of the race.
Bowyer came into the weekend confident, but that confidence faded quickly when the race began.
“We were really good in practice. I was pretty optimistic going into the race,” said Bowyer. “But I knew I was in trouble the first few laps on the track. The car was just too tight.”
Pole-sitter Denny Hamlin fought back from a spin before the halfway point of the race to take seventh, a spot behind Kevin Harvick.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished eighth, followed by Greg Biffle and Jamie McMurray.
Stenhouse wound up third, followed by Paul Menard and Kyle Busch. Jimmie Johnson, who led the most laps (47), wound up 13th, but took the top spot away from Matt Kenseth in the Championship Chase. The Chase For The NASCAR Sprint Cup will culminate at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 17.
Next up for the Sprint Cup drivers is the eighth race of the Chase at Texas on Sunday, November 3 (1:00 p.m. EDT, ESPN, Sirius NASCAR Radio Channel 90)—Race 33 of 36 en route to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 15-17). The Chase For The NASCAR Sprint Cup will culminate at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 17.