Apr 7, 2013, 7:00 PM EDT
Jimmie Johnson led 346 laps en route to claiming his eighth career NASCAR Sprint Cup victory at Martinsville Speedway this afternoon, re-taking the Cup championship lead in the process.
Johnson, now the winningest active driver at the famous “paperclip,” had to withstand one final restart with eight laps remaining but pulled away from Clint Bowyer and the rest of his rivals.
“I think the last stop or two, we really got our car adjusted right and got some clean air and track position, which was very important,” said Johnson, who now leads Brad Keselowski by six points as the series heads for Texas Motor Speedway. “…Just as the day wore on and we got to the end, they were flawless on pit road and I did my job on the race track to maintain track position, and we could control the race at that point.
“Being stuck on the outside lane on a restart would have been the death of whoever was out there. Fortunately, we had control of the race late and held off a lot of hard-charging guys.”
Bowyer’s runner-up was a hard-fought one, as he was one of multiple drivers caught in a wreck at Lap 180 that had a big impact on the race. Luckily for the Kansas native, his car had been fast throughout the weekend and when he needed to make up ground following the collision, it came through for him again.
Still, Bowyer wondered what could have been if he hadn’t been caught in the incident.
“It’s just disappointing. She was just tore up too bad,” Bowyer said to The Sporting News’ Jeff Owens. “We were lucky to get back up where we were.”
As for Danica Patrick, she managed to finish a surprising 12th in her Martinsville debut — her best finish of the young season since her eighth-place outing at the Daytona 500. Patrick brought out the first yellow of the day with a spin at Lap 17 and fell two laps behind at one point, but was able to make them up by taking the wave-around on consecutive cautions.
- NHRA drag racing superstar John Force goes on vacation — at a dragstrip, of course 0
- Swan Racing restructures, splits up two-car Sprint Cup operation 0
- It’s official: Redskins QB RG III to drive pace car at Richmond for Saturday’s Sprint Cup race 2
- Raikkonen: Yes, he’s still motivated, otherwise he wouldn’t be here 7
- Red Bull tweaks Mercedes over attempt to increase ‘Fuelgate’ punishment 5
More from NASCAR America
- VIDEO: Vettel ignores team orders, telling team “tough luck” (20)
- Alonso’s doing it again – another year outperforming teammate, equipment (12)
- NASCAR still humming along after last fall’s Richmond scandal (9)
- In re-released interview, Brad Keselowski recalls how Rick Hendrick left him heartbroken (8)
- Maldonado brushes off crash and spin in practice (7)