Earnhardt Captures First Martinsville Speedway Win
Sunday October 26, 2014
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has yearned for a famous Martinsville Speedway grandfather clock winner’s trophy since he was a little boy. Sunday he finally got to take his own home.
Earnhardt took the lead from Tony Stewart on a restart with five laps to go and held off a hard-charging Jeff Gordon to claim the Goody’s® Headache Relief Shot 500® NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway Sunday afternoon.
“I’ve wanted that grandfather clock since I was a little boy and I got it today,” a jubilant Earnhardt shouted in victory lane.
His late father Dale Earnhardt Sr. won six times at Martinsville, and one of those grandfather clock trophies wound up in a position that the younger Earnhardt had to pass by almost every day.
“I know this place has a special meaning and a special place in the series and the sport,” Earnhardt said. “I’ve been coming here so many years. My dad won several (clocks) and brought one home and set it by the front door by the stairs. There was a little rug by it. I used to race my matchbox cars on that rug and remember hearing the clock chime on the hour.
“I still can’t believe it. Those clocks are so hard to get. I try not to get too caught up in the emotion of it because it’s a team deal. But it is hard not to get emotional because it is so special to me.”
Earnhardt led five different times for 79 laps, but lost the lead with eight laps to go when he and most of the leaders pitted for tires under caution. He restarted fifth with five laps remaining, but quickly knifed through the pack to retake the lead for good. He held off Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon for a .344 second victory.
“I’ve been trying to win here for so many years. I wanted to win here so bad,” said Earnhardt. “I can’t believe we won here. It means so much to all of us.”
Ryan Newman finished third, followed by Tony Stewart and Joey Logano.
With his second-place finish, Gordon took the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup points lead by three over Ryan Newman.
Sprint Cup racing returns to Martinsville Speedway on March 29, 2015. Tickets for the STP 500 are on sale and may be purchased by calling 877.RACE.TIX or by visiting www.martinsvillespeedway.com.