Jimmie Johnson closed out a perfect weekend at Martinsville Speedway Sunday afternoon, winning the STP® Gas Booster™ 500 in dominant fashion.
Johnson started on the pole in a Chevrolet after a track-record qualifying run on Friday and then led 346 laps Sunday on the way to his 62nd career NASCAR Sprint Cup victory.
With the victory, his eighth at Martinsville, Johnson became the track’s all-time win leader among active drivers. He was tied with Jeff Gordon.
“We had a great weekend, probably the most calm, relaxed thought-out we’ve had. We really fell back on our experience and stayed committed to that,” said Johnson, who took over the Sprint Cup points lead with the win. “In the race we had to adjust on the fly. The track changed more than we thought it would. And then the 15 (Clint Bowyer) and the 24 (Gordon) showed up and I had my hands full.”
Bowyer overcame an early-race smash-up that damaged his Toyota heavily to finish second while Gordon bounced back from a pit-stop miscue to finish third in a Chevrolet. Kasey Kahne wound up fourth and Kyle Busch was fifth.
A second-place finish did little to soothe Bowyer.
“We had a good car all weekend long so it’s incredibly disappointing to be honest to have such a good car,” said Bowyer. “Second is decent in this sport, but it still sucks.”
Rookie Danica Patrick, in her first trip to Martinsville was perhaps the surprise of the day. After falling two laps down early, she fought her way back to the lead lap and finished 12th, racing three-wide with Kevin Harvick and Brian Vickers at the start-finish line.
“We were two laps down at one time and I’m most proud of getting those back and running strong on the lead lap to the end. This team has a lot to be proud of,” said Patrick, the highest finishing rookie in the race. “I had a spin at the very beginning (of the race). I felt like I kind of got punched down, but I learned my lesson from that.”
Gordon had to make up a lot of ground after falling well back in the field when he overshot his pits during a pit stop. “I made a bonehead move and overshot my pitstop and cost us a bunch of positions,” said Gordon.
Brad KIeselowski wound up sixth, followed by Jamie McMurray, Marcos Ambrose, who started second, Greg Biffle and Mark Martin, filling in for the injured Denny Hamlin.
NASCAR Sprint Cup racing returns to Martinsville Speedway October 27 with the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 and tickets may be purchased by calling 877.RACE.TIX.