As darkness crept in, Gordon won the Goody’s® Headache Relief Shot® 500, his ninth career win at the historic speedway.
“I mean, look, Martinsville, you can't ever count us out at Martinsville,” Gordon said. “It wasn't given to us, I can tell you that. But we certainly had some help. That would not be the first time I've had help winning a race at Martinsville. That's kind of how races go sometimes. “
The win also makes Gordon the first driver to clinch a spot in the Championship Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
“There's nothing cooler than winning the first race in this round, to know you're going to Homestead so you can think about it, plan for it, you can adjust your schedule accordingly,” he said. “I'm going to be 100% focused. Yeah, I got a lot of people coming there, but it's all about the pre-planning. I'm 100% focused to go there and do what I got to do with this race team. I can't wait to get to work on that.”
Before Gordon took the lead, it looked like the top story was going to be a late race incident involving Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano. The two have been feuding since late race contact at Kansas.
Kenseth turned Logano going into turn one, after an incident involving Logano’s teammate Brad Keselowski.
Logano said “no” when asked if he expected the contact from Kenseth.
“I was just doing my thing,” he said. “Obviously, he was beating my back bumper off early in the race, but it’s whatever at this point. We’re gonna move on and we’re gonna keep looking out the windshield.
“There’s a championship to win. We’re gonna win that.”
Kenseth didn’t deny the contact with Logano was intentional.
“Well, like I said some days you get put in spots you don’t want to be in for sure,” Kenseth said. “I’d much rather be out there racing for a win than to be in that spot. I had two chances to win, I think, in the last three weeks and I got wrecked out of both of them going for the lead. One from him (Joey Logano) and one from Brad (Keselowski), so that’s disappointing.
“We should have never been in that spot trying to limp that car around and get the finish.”
Jaime McMurray finished second.
“For me, Jeff Gordon is the only die-cast or T-shirt that I ever bought growing up, before I made it to NASCAR,” McMurray said. “So, it was a really cool moment for me to get to battle with him on a green-white-checkered at Martinsville.”
Denny Hamlin finished third, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Kyle Busch’s fifth place finish was the second highest of the drivers in the Chase.
There were 18 cautions for 109 laps and 21 lead changes among nine drivers.
Racing returns to Martinsville in 2016 with the STP 500 race weekend, April 1 – April 3.
Next year’s race marks the first stop on the east coast, after the “west coast swing” and is the first short-track race of the season.
Tickets start at just $45 and can be reserved with as little as $10 down.