Mar 30, 2014, 5:16 PM EDT
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.
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
12 Jeff Gordon
13 Carl Edwards
14 Kyle Busch
17 Tony Stewart
18 Greg Biffle
19 Denny Hamlin
20 Ryan Newman
22 Kasey Kahne
24 Casey Mears
27 Kyle Larson
28 David Ragan
29 Cole Whitt
30 Ryan Truex
32 Danica Patrick
35 Josh Wise
36 Alex Bowman
38 Brad Keselowski
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
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Aug 20, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT
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.
Aug 20, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT
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.
Aug 20, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT
Gabby Chaves to get new teammate in form of Ryan Phinny for Sonoma, at Indy Lights weekend finale.
Aug 20, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
NBA legend Dominique Wilkins tours Charlie Kimball’s No. 83 team during the Milwaukee IndyCar weekend.
Aug 20, 2014, 8:45 AM EDT
Le Mans champion Andre Lotterer confirmed for surprise Formula One debut with Caterham at this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.
Aug 19, 2014, 9:09 PM EDT
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.
Aug 19, 2014, 8:07 PM EDT
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.
Aug 19, 2014, 7:31 PM EDT
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.
Aug 19, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT
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.”
Aug 19, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT
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.
Aug 19, 2014, 4:15 PM EDT
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.
Aug 19, 2014, 3:12 PM EDT
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.
Aug 19, 2014, 2:16 PM EDT
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.
Aug 19, 2014, 1:31 PM EDT
Eight years ago, the son of Michael and grandson of Mario broke through on the Northern California circuit.
Aug 19, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT
A final report from MotorSportsTalk’s Tony DiZinno on how the Milwaukee IndyFest went off.
Aug 19, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT
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.
Aug 19, 2014, 12:10 PM EDT
NASCAR’s Chase Grid Live sweepstakes open until August 29; provides fans potential VIP trip ahead of Chicagoland Chase opener.
Aug 19, 2014, 11:52 AM EDT
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.
Aug 19, 2014, 10:17 AM EDT
Carl Edwards confirmed at Joe Gibbs Racing for 2015 and beyond.
Aug 18, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT
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
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