Clint Bowyer broke a 109 race winless streak Monday in a relatively clean Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Here’s how it all went down:
After a 24-hour delay due to snow, Martin Truex Jr. led the field to the green. HE was awarded the pole based on owner’s points after a qualifying rain out. Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, and Ryan Blaney were the top five.
Truex started on the outside, he had the lead by the exit of turn 2, Kyle Busch fell in behind. Logano was third followed by Keselowski and Blaney.
Kyle Busch took the lead on lap 5 with little defense from Truex. Hamlin took fifth on the same lap.
Hamlin took third on lap 9. Logano was fourth, Keselowski fifth.
Blaney took fifth on lap 14.
Hamlin was looking for second by lap 18; he took second from Truex on lap 19.
Kyle Busch had caught the rear of the field by lap 25.
Hamlin charged past Busch for the lead to start lap 28. The top 4 were nose to tail.
Logano took third on lap 30.
Keselowski took fourth from Truex on lap 34. He took third on lap 47.
NASCAR had called a competition caution for lap 50 and that became the first caution of the day.
The leaders pitted; Hamlin was out first followed by Kyle Busch, Blaney, and Truex. Logano lost five spots. Kevin Harvick and Aric Almirola made contact as they left; Harvick came back out fifth. Almirola re-pitted for slight damage.
The restart came out to start lap 57; Hamlin took the lead followed by Kyle Busch, Keselowski, and Blaney.
Truex moved Blaney out of the way and took fourth on lap 62. Harvick had fallen to seventh and reported tire smoke in the cockpit.
Keselowski and Kyle Busch were fighting for second by lap 86; Keselowski took the spot on lap 87. The lead for Hamlin was less than a second.
Kyle Busch was reporting chattering tires and was soon falling back: he was 4th by lap 96. Truex was also falling back; Clint Bowyer had fifth by lap 98. Truex was 7th.
Keselowski was looking for the lead with 10 to go in Stage 1. Truex had fallen to 10th.
On the final lap Hamlin and Keselowski were fighting for the lead; the got into Harrison Rhodes and nearly spun him out; all continued.
Top 10 Stage 1: Hamlin, Keselowski, Blaney, Kyle Busch, Bowyer, Harvick, AJ Allmendinger, Kurt Busch, Logano and Jimmie Johnson.
The second caution of the day came out.
Pit road was closed for a few laps due to allowing an ambulance taking a injured crewmember out.
Pit road opened on lap 135 and the leaders pitted; Blaney won the race off pit road, Hamlin was out second, followed by Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Bowyer.
Green came out to start Stage 2 on lap 143. Hamlin had a slight lead by turn 2, and the full lead by the end of the lap. Blaney was close and pressuring Hamlin; he was under him by lap 144; Keselowski was third followed by Kyle Busch and Bowyer.
Blaney and Hamlin were side by side for several laps with Blaney finally emerging with the lead on lap 146.
Keselowski was looking for second by lap 152 he took second on lap 158 bringing Kyle Busch with him. Bowyer then got by and Hamlin was soon fifth.
For the first time in the race the lead was over a second for Blaney by lap 167.
Bowyer took third on lap 176.
Truex had fallen 10th by lap 178, after getting a bump from Allmendinger.
Bowyer had second by lap 200 and the lead for Blaney was just over 2 seconds. There were 21 cars on the lead lap.
Kyle Busch took third from Keselowski on lap 215. Bowyer was making ground on Blaney in heavy traffic. The lead was under a second by lap 218.
The lead was a half a second by lap 225.
Bowyer was looking for the lead by lap 229. There were 18 cars on the lead lap.
Hamlin and Keselowski were fighting for fourth with 10 to go in Stage 2.
Top 10 Stage 2: Blaney, Bowyer, Kyle Busch, Keselowski, Hamlin, Harvick, Kurt Busch, Allmendinger, Logano and Johnson.
The third caution of the day came out to end the stage on lap 261. There were 15 cars on the lead lap.
The leaders pitted on lap 264: Blaney was out first followed by Kyle Busch, Bowyer, Keselowski and Hamlin.
Green came out to start lap 272; Blaney took the lead on the outside and took off; Kyle Busch had a distant second by the end of the lap. Bowyer, Keselowski and Hamlin followed.
Keselowski fell back on lap 274 and Harvick took fifth.
Bowyer took second on lap 277. He took the lead on lap 286.
Kyle Busch took second on lap 289; Hamlin followed and Blaney was soon fourth with Harvick in fifth close behind. Harvick took fourth on lap 293.
The lead for Bowyer was 1.2 seconds by lap 300.
Harvick took fourth on lap 308. Blaney retook the spot on lap 321. There were 16 cars on the lead lap.
Blaney took third on lap 350.
Kyle Busch was looking for the lead by lap 362. The two were seven seconds ahead of third on back.
Truex took fifth after a fierce battle with Hamlin and Allmendinger on lap 382.
Jamie McMurray spun into the wall in Turn 2 on lap 383 and the fourth caution of the day came out. McMurray was 19th and got a shove from Austin Dillon. He was able to continue.
It was a lucky break for Bowyer. The crew reported that they had not gotten all the fuel during the last pit stop and he was close to needing to pit under green.
The leaders pitted: Bowyer (with a full fuel load) was out first followed by Kyle Busch, Blaney, Truex and Harvick.
Hamlin had to re-pit with damage he sustained under green after contact with Harvick. He came out and restarted 15th.
The green came to start lap 391; Bowyer dove to the lead, Kyle Busch fell in behind. Truex, Blaney, and Kurt Busch followed.
Kurt Busch was soon slipping back; Harvick was fifth followed by Keselowski by lap 405.
Harvick was looking for fourth by lap 408; Kurt Busch was looking to retake 6th. He got loose on lap 411 and nearly lost it; he fell back to 10th.
The lead for Bowyer was just over 1 second by lap 437, 63 laps to go. There were 16 cars on the lead lap, however all others were at least 2 laps down, none were only 1 lap down.
Trevor Bayne hit the wall entering Turn 3 on lap 458 but continued and there was no caution.
Bowyer was clawing through traffic with 28 to go maintaining a lead of just over 1 second.
With 15 to go Bowyer was still fighting heavy lapped traffic and the lead was under a second. There were 14 cars on the lead lap.
The lead was 1.2 seconds with 10 laps to go.
It was a 1.3 second lead with 5 to go.
On the final lap the gap was just under a second. There was no drama on the final lap as Bowyer won by 1.146 seconds. Kyle Busch was second followed by Blaney, Truex, and Harvick fifth.
Logano was sixth, Alex Bowman seventh, Allmendinger eighth with Chase Elliott and Keselowski rounding out the top 10.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series takes a week off returning at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4th for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. Live coverage will be on Fox Sports 1 starting at 2:00 p.m. ET.
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