Skip to content

UPDATED: Kurt Busch shakes off early-race tangle, holds off Jimmie Johnson to win at Martinsville

Mar 30, 2014, 5:16 PM EDT

Kurt Busch was the fastest in Friday afternoon's Sprint Cup practice at Bristol Motor Speedway. (Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) Getty Images

Kurt Busch overcame an early-race tangle with Brad Keselowski, and then held off Jimmie Johnson in the final 11 laps to win Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

The elder Busch brother follows up younger brother Kyle’s win last week at Auto Club Speedway to become the sixth different Sprint Cup Series winner in as many races this season.

“I didn’t know if we’d be able to do it,” Busch said. “The 48 car (Johnson) is king here, him or the 24 (Jeff Gordon).”

Johnson and Gordon lead all active drivers at Martinsville with eight wins apiece, while NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty holds the all-time record with 15 career wins at the sport’s shortest track (.526-mile). Johnson gave it all he could to try and catch Busch in the closing laps, but Busch’s Hendrick Motorsports power under the hood was just a slight tick more powerful than Johnson’s own HMS motor.

“It’s the old theory, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” Busch said. “I have a Hendrick chassis prepared by Stewart Haas Racing, a Hendrick motor, thanks to those guys at Chevrolet. I’ve been on this journey for awhile, and every time you come to Martinsville, you just draw a line through it and say there’s no way I’ll be able to challenge those Hendrick guys or be up in that top 10. This Stewart Haas team gave me a car to do it.

“It’s a dream come true to have Gene Haas call you and tell you that he wants you to drive, that he wants you to go for trophies and wins, and this is an unbelievable feeling to deliver for Haas Automation.”

Busch passed Johnson on Lap 473 and appeared headed to the win, but Johnson regained the lead 10 laps later.

Johnson was seeking his ninth triumph at Martinsville, but Busch rallied back to regain the lead on Lap 489, successfully navigated thick lapped traffic while still being able to keep Johnson at bay to take his first Sprint Cup win since Oct. 2, 2011 at Dover.

The 2004 Sprint Cup champion led just 23 laps in breaking an 83-race winless streak, earning his 25th career Sprint Cup win and his second career triumph at Martinsville (the other was back in October 2002 when he was with Roush Racing).

On Lap 44 under caution, Busch got into the rear of Keselowski’s car on pit road, sending it careening into Kasey Kahne‘s car, causing extensive damage to Keselowski’s car  that kept the 2012 Cup champ off the track for more than 30 laps while repairs were made by his Team Penske crew.

Shortly after the incident, Busch  told his crew over the team radio that “We’re done” due to the incident, but was able to continue on and quickly worked his way up through the pack to run consistently in the top-10 for much of the day.

Keselowski was none too happy with his former Penske Racing teammate.

“Well, Kurt tore the whole suspension off the car, so it won’t turn, it won’t do anything,” Keselowski said shortly after the incident. “So, thanks, Kurt, appreciate it, Bud.”

Once his car was repaired, Keselowski got back on the track more than 30 laps later, racing without front fenders or a hood, and ran into both the rear and side of Busch’s car several times but didn’t wreck nor cause any significant damage to the eventual winner and his car.

After the race, Busch essentially ignored Keselowski’s claims that he caused the pit road wreck.

“We won but we’re not worried about any of that nonsense right now,” Busch said. “We are a winner, we’re not guaranteed anything, we need to win and we’re moving forward.”

Johnson, who led a race-high 296 of the event’s 500 laps, finished second, while Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished third. It was the first time Johnson has not won at Martinsville after leading more than 271 laps in an individual race.

“I’d been loose in the final third of the race. I was hanging on there and when he got back me, I was hopeful he’d wear his stuff off so I could get back him. And then I did, and then I couldn’t hold him off. I just kept getting looser and looser. That’s all I had. I ran the rear tires off the car.

“I was just a little too loose there to get the win. … I wish we could have gotten this for Rick’s 30th anniversary (of Hendrick Motorsports’ first career win in NASCAR back in 1984 at Martinsville), but we came up just a little short.”

Joey Logano, who led 39 laps, finished fourth, followed by a strong effort by Richard Petty Motorsports driver Marcos Ambrose, who led 22 laps and finished fifth, while fellow RPM driver Aric Almirola finished eighth.

Sixth through 10th were Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Almirola, Clint Bowyer and Paul Menard.

Earnhardt also regained the lead in the Sprint Cup points standings. Earnhardt, who led the points after the first three races, knocked Carl Edwards off the top spot after Edwards’ brief one-week reign.

Earnhardt now leads Matt Kenseth by nine points and Edwards by 10 as the series moves to the high-speed Texas Motor Speedway next Sunday.

With the win, Busch climbed four spots in the standings and into a tie for 20th with Mears.

Pole sitter Kyle Busch led 22 laps but fought handling problems throughout most of the race, eventually finishing 14th. Danica Patrick, who earned her best non-restrictor plate track qualifying effort on Friday and started Sunday’s race 10th, struggled to an eventual 32nd-place finish.

There were a record 33 lead changes among 12 drivers, breaking the old track record of 31.

Here’s the unofficial finishing order for Sunday’s STP 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway, followed by the unofficial Sprint Cup standings after Sunda’s race:

1 Kurt Busch

2 Jimmie Johnson

3 Dale Earnhardt Jr.

4 Joey Logano

5 Marcos Ambrose

6 Matt Kenseth

7 Kevin Harvick

8 Aric Almirola

9 Clint Bowyer

10 Paul Menard

11 AJ Allmendinger

12 Jeff Gordon

13 Carl Edwards

14 Kyle Busch

15 Austin Dillon

16 Brian Vickers

17 Tony Stewart

18 Greg Biffle

19 Denny Hamlin

20 Ryan Newman

21 Martin Truex Jr.

22 Kasey Kahne

23 Justin Allgaier

24 Casey Mears

25 Landon Cassill

26 David Gilliland

27 Kyle Larson

28 David Ragan

29 Cole Whitt

30 Ryan Truex

31 Michael Annett

32 Danica Patrick

33 Travis Kvapil

34 Reed Sorenson

35 Josh Wise

36 Alex Bowman

37 Michael McDowell

38 Brad Keselowski

39 David Stremme

40 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

41 Parker Kligerman

42 Jamie McMurray

43 Joe Nemechek

Unofficial updated Sprint Cup points standings after Martinsville:

1 Dale Earnhardt Jr.

2 Matt Kenseth -9

3 Carl Edwards -10

4 Jeff Gordon -11

5 Jimmie Johnson -18

6 Kyle Busch -38

7 Brad Keselowski -39

8 Joey Logano -40

9 Austin Dillon -48

10 Ryan Newman -53

11 Paul Menard -59

12 Denny Hamlin -62

13 Brian Vickers -62

14 Marcos Ambrose -65

15 Tony Stewart -73

16 AJ Allmendinger -75

17 Clint Bowyer -77

18 Greg Biffle -78

19 Kyle Larson -79

20 Kurt Busch -81

21 Casey Mears -81

22 Kasey Kahne -82

23 Jamie McMurray -87

24 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. -91

25 Kevin Harvick -92

26 Aric Almirola -95

27 Justin Allgaier -118

28 Martin Truex Jr. -122

29 Danica Patrick -123

30 Reed Sorenson -126

31 Michael Annett -139

32 Cole Whitt -141

33 David Gilliland -142

34 David Ragan -142

35 Alex Bowman -145

36 Josh Wise -168

37 Ryan Truex -180

38 Travis Kvapil -182

39 Parker Kligerman -191

40 Bobby Labonte -198

41 Jeff Burton -200

42 Michael McDowell -201

43 Terry Labonte -203

44 David Reutimann -211

45 Timmy Hill -220

46 David Stremme -222

47 Michael Waltrip -223

48 Landon Cassill -227

49 Joe Nemecheck -227

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Latest Posts
  1. IndyCar: Penske looks for fifth straight Sonoma win this weekend

    Aug 20, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    Sonoma Pack - IndyCar AP

    Will Power and Team Penske have been dominant over the last several years at Sonoma, and if they are again, the IndyCar championship could be put out of reach.

  2. Conway looks to sign off his 2014 IndyCar campaign with third win in Sonoma

    Aug 20, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    ConwayLB2 AP

    If Mike Conway wins Sonoma this weekend, he’ll have his third win of 2014, and tie Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay with the most in the IndyCar field.

  3. Indy Lights: Ryan Phinny, Casamigos switch to Belardi for Sonoma

    Aug 20, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Photo: Indy Lights Photo: Indy Lights

    Gabby Chaves to get new teammate in form of Ryan Phinny for Sonoma, at Indy Lights weekend finale.

  4. NBA legend Dominique Wilkins made it to Milwaukee last weekend with Kimball’s crew

    Aug 20, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    KimballMKE Getty Images

    NBA legend Dominique Wilkins tours Charlie Kimball’s No. 83 team during the Milwaukee IndyCar weekend.

  5. Andre Lotterer confirmed for Caterham debut at Spa

    Aug 20, 2014, 8:45 AM EDT

    LottererDebut Getty Images

    Le Mans champion Andre Lotterer confirmed for surprise Formula One debut with Caterham at this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.

  6. NASCAR: Toyota working to find more horsepower for engines

    Aug 19, 2014, 9:09 PM EDT

    Pure Michigan 400 Getty Images

    Last year, reliability was the problem for Toyota’s engines, not power. This year, the situation has been reversed, and Toyota Racing Development’s president says they’re hunting for more performance ahead of the Chase.

  7. NASCAR AMERICA: Crew chief Gustafson key to Jeff Gordon’s renaissance (VIDEO)

    Aug 19, 2014, 8:07 PM EDT

    Sprint All-Star Race - Practice Getty Images

    Alan Gustafson may not be as well-known as other crew chiefs, but it’s clear that he’s played a big role in Jeff Gordon’s success this season. The NASCAR AMERICA crew breaks down what’s made them such a good pair together.

  8. NASCAR AMERICA: New home, new sponsor for Edwards and Suarez (VIDEO)

    Aug 19, 2014, 7:31 PM EDT

    Daniel Suarez AP

    NASCAR AMERICA talks about Carl Edwards and Daniel Suarez’s move to Joe Gibbs Racing – and the impact of their new sponsor, telecommunications equipment company ARRIS.

  9. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA follows JGR’s big day at 6:30 p.m. ET

    Aug 19, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT

    Daniel Suarez, Carl Edwards AP

    Coming up today: Reaction from 2015 JGR drivers Carl Edwards and Daniel Suarez, and current JGR Cup drivers Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch; No. 24 crew chief Alan Gustafson on the team’s win at Michigan; the Michigan edition of “Scan All 43.”

  10. NASCAR: Truck Series preparing for Bristol on short week

    Aug 19, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

    UNOH 200 Getty Images

    Four days after racing in Michigan, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series faces the high banks of Bristol Motor Speedway in Wednesday night’s UNOH 200.

  11. Red Bull GRC going long for Saturday’s race at Daytona

    Aug 19, 2014, 4:15 PM EDT

    GRCLogo

    This weekend, Red Bull GRC drivers will compete on a .924-mile layout at Daytona International Speedway that’s the longest they’ve faced so far this year. Catch Saturday’s final at 2:30 p.m. on NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra.

  12. NASCAR: Joe Gibbs hopeful for eventual return of Tony Stewart

    Aug 19, 2014, 3:12 PM EDT

    Bojangles' Southern 500 Getty Images

    Gibbs, who won two Sprint Cup titles with Stewart in 2002 and 2005, believes that his former driver has the courage to overcome his grief and eventually come back to racing.

  13. On to Beijing: Formula E completes pre-season testing

    Aug 19, 2014, 2:16 PM EDT

    GERMANY-AUTOMOBILE-ECONOMY-FAIR-IAA Getty Images

    e.dams-Renault’s Sebastien Buemi puts up a lap of 1 minute, 31.792 seconds to lead the final day of testing at the UK’s Donington Park.

  14. Sonoma flashback: Marco Andretti scores first IndyCar win in 2006

    Aug 19, 2014, 1:31 PM EDT

    Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma Getty Images

    Eight years ago, the son of Michael and grandson of Mario broke through on the Northern California circuit.

  15. The 2014 Milwaukee IndyFest weekend high on promise, with more positives than negatives

    Aug 19, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    MKEWrap AP

    A final report from MotorSportsTalk’s Tony DiZinno on how the Milwaukee IndyFest went off.

  16. NASCAR: Mexican rising star Daniel Suarez moving up to Nationwide

    Aug 19, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    Richmond International Raceway - Day 1 Getty Images

    After success in Mexico and in the U.S.-based NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, Suarez will take on the Nationwide Series next season with Joe Gibbs Racing.

  17. NASCAR’s Chase Grid Live offers fans chance to get close to Chase Grid in Chicago

    Aug 19, 2014, 12:10 PM EDT

    Geico 400 Getty Images

    NASCAR’s Chase Grid Live sweepstakes open until August 29; provides fans potential VIP trip ahead of Chicagoland Chase opener.

  18. Edwards joins a number of NASCAR drivers in leaving “home” for fresh challenge

    Aug 19, 2014, 11:52 AM EDT

    EdwardsBiffle AP

    Carl Edwards was almost destined to move to Gibbs, and it’s time to see whether his new opportunity will yield as much success for him as other switches have for others.

  19. NASCAR’s worst-kept secret is official: Carl Edwards joins Joe Gibbs Racing from 2015

    Aug 19, 2014, 10:17 AM EDT

    Camping World RV Sales 301 - Practice Getty Images

    Carl Edwards confirmed at Joe Gibbs Racing for 2015 and beyond.

  20. NASCAR AMERICA: Sprint Cup teams take part in critical test (VIDEO)

    Aug 18, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT

    Pure Michigan 400 Getty Images

    10 Sprint Cup squads tested various configurations today at Michigan as NASCAR looked to nail down its rules package for the 2015 Cup season. Today on NASCAR AMERICA, NBCSN contributor Nate Ryan gave a full report on the proceedings.

Video from NASCAR America

Why Edwards switched to Joe Gibbs racing
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. J. Gordon (1389)
  2. K. Harvick (1384)
  3. T. Stewart (1202)
  4. K. Busch (944)
  5. I. Vences (824)