Jimmie Johnson Dominates at Martinsville

RIDGEWAY, VA - APRIL 07:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP Gas Booster 500 on April 7, 2013 at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia.  (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images)

RIDGEWAY, VA – APRIL 07: Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP Gas Booster 500 on April 7, 2013 at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images)

Jimmie Johnson won the STP Gas Booster 500 at the Martinsville Speedway Sunday. Johnson dominated the race, leading 346 laps out of the 500.

Johnson held off Clint Bowyer on a restart after the race’s final caution with 13 laps to go and held it strong for the final 8 circuits.  In a repeat of last year’s race, Johnson led Bowyer, who rebounded after being involved in a ten car crash on lap 181, and Gordon to the green with less than 10 to go. Unlike last year when Bowyer took out himself, Johnson and Gordon in the final laps, Johnson was able to pull ahead and go on to victory.

“It was just a long-fought day,” Johnson said.”Martinsville stays the same over the years and you just have to dig-in and get into a rhythm and drive your own race and see how things unfold at the end and how things happen. Fortunately we didn’t have any craziness with two tires or four tires at the end.”

Brad Keselowski came home a close sixth battling Busch to the line in a photo finish.

“It was just a matter of how hard I wanted to work (Busch) over,” Keselowski said.  “There’s a proper amount to work somebody over for a win and a proper amount to work somebody over for a fifth or a sixth.  I worked him enough to feel proud about it.”

This is Johnson’s second Sprint Cup Series win of 2013, and his eighth win in Martinsville which broke a three way tie for third for most wins at NASCAR’s smallest track between him, Jeff Gordon and Rusty Wallace.

Jamie McMurray, Marcos Ambrose, Greg Biffle and Mark Martin driving in relief of the injured Denny Hamlin rounded out the top ten.

Meanwhile, Danica Patrick finished 12th for an impressive debut at the track. It is her second best finish during her rookie year in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. She took 8th place in the Daytona 500 back in February.

“I feel like that’s almost one of the things I’m most proud of is coming back from two laps down to being on the lead lap,” Patrick said. “Then grabbing a 12th place at the end was good and I think it was the right call to stay out because I don’t think tires were quite worth enough to pit. So it was a good run today.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. who came into the day leading the points, suffered his worst finish over the year, finishing 24th, two laps down in part thanks to a spin with 35 laps to go. Earnhardt fell to third in the standings behind Keselowski while Johnson, who became the season’s first repeat winner, took over the top spot as the series heads to Texas Motor Speedway next Saturday night.

“I feel like the fastest car won the race,” Johnson said. “It was a very standard Martinsville race; although I thought some guys might peel off and take tires. It was just a hard race. This race track is tough to get around. But we have a great notebook.”

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – STP Gas Booster 500
Martinsville Speedway
Martinsville, Virginia
Sunday, April 07, 2013

1. (1) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 500, $209471.
2. (15) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 500, $159693.
3. (6) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 500, $146446.
4. (5) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 500, $112385.
5. (11) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 500, $145278.
6. (7) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 500, $141586.
7. (13) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 500, $116915.
8. (2) Marcos Ambrose, Ford, 500, $118134.
9. (22) Greg Biffle, Ford, 500, $102070.
10. (35) Mark Martin, Toyota, 500, $104420.
11. (3) Brian Vickers(i), Toyota, 500, $95850.
12. (32) Danica Patrick #, Chevrolet, 500, $83125.
13. (21) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 500, $128711.
14. (8) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 500, $120591.
15. (9) Carl Edwards, Ford, 500, $121500.
16. (41) Casey Mears, Ford, 500, $111133.
17. (26) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 500, $127375.
18. (29) Jeff Burton, Chevrolet, 500, $92025.
19. (16) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 500, $113716.
20. (34) Aric Almirola, Ford, 500, $121436.
21. (31) Bobby Labonte, Toyota, 500, $107133.
22. (18) Regan Smith(i), Chevrolet, 500, $104808.
23. (4) Joey Logano, Ford, 499, $110758.
24. (17) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 498, $96650.
25. (20) Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #, Ford, 498, $127311.
26. (14) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 497, $108789.
27. (37) JJ Yeley, Chevrolet, 497, $81250.
28. (30) David Gilliland, Ford, 496, $92608.
29. (39) Dave Blaney, Chevrolet, 495, $90222.
30. (23) David Ragan, Ford, 493, $89950.
31. (10) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 492, $114458.
32. (36) Ken Schrader, Ford, 492, $79650.
33. (33) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 492, $76925.
34. (43) Joe Nemechek(i), Toyota, 491, $76800.
35. (42) Josh Wise(i), Ford, 488, $76750.
36. (24) David Stremme, Toyota, Electrical, 485, $76700.
37. (19) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, Accident, 457, $102961.
38. (40) David Reutimann, Toyota, 457, $71850.
39. (25) Travis Kvapil, Toyota, 436, $75850.
40. (12) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 385, $95925.
41. (28) Scott Speed, Ford, Rear Gear, 64, $59850.
42. (38) Scott Riggs, Ford, Brakes, 47, $55850.
43. (27) Michael McDowell, Ford, Brakes, 26, $52350.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  72.066 mph.
Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 38 Mins, 58 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.627 Seconds.
Caution Flags:  12 for 85 laps.
Lead Changes:  12 among 5 drivers.
Lap Leaders:   J. Johnson 0; M. Ambrose 1; J. Johnson 2-72; T. Kvapil 73; J. Johnson 74-90; Kyle Busch 91-102; J. Johnson 103-221; M. Kenseth 222-242; J. Johnson 243; M. Kenseth 244-264; Kyle Busch 265-308; M. Kenseth 309-362; J. Johnson 363-500.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  J. Johnson 5 times for 346 laps; M. Kenseth 3 times for 96 laps; Kyle Busch 2 times for 56 laps; M. Ambrose 1 time for 1 lap; T. Kvapil 1 time for 1 lap.
Top 12 in Points: J. Johnson – 231; Brad Keselowski – 225; D. Earnhardt Jr. – 219; Kyle Busch – 203; K. Kahne – 199; G. Biffle – 199; C. Edwards – 193; C. Bowyer – 179; P. Menard – 179; M. Kenseth – 172; J. Logano – 167; J. Gordon – 164.

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