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
Follow me @JerryBonkowski
Jul 31, 2014, 11:01 AM EDT
If you collect NASCAR memorabilia and someone approaches you in the coming days with a deal that seems too good to be true – especially if it involves merchandise related to either Dale Earnhardt Sr. or Dale Earnhardt Jr. – it probably is.
Jul 31, 2014, 10:50 AM EDT
Ferrari’s head of Engine and Electrics, Luca Marmorini, has left the team ahead of the second half of the season.
Jul 31, 2014, 9:59 AM EDT
NBCSN will present live coverage of the IndyCar Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio this Sunday at 3 p.m. ET, highlighting more than 30 hours of motorsports coverage across NBC and NBCSN this weekend.
Jul 31, 2014, 9:52 AM EDT
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That’s the case for the new design of the Toyota Camry for the 2015 Sprint Cup season.
Jul 31, 2014, 8:57 AM EDT
Ed Carpenter says he’d like to expand to two cars, but it remains to be seen if this can actually come to fruition.
Jul 30, 2014, 7:12 PM EDT
Personal care brand will serve as primary backer for Stenhouse in multiple 2015 races plus work in a season-long associate role.
Jul 30, 2014, 5:38 PM EDT
NASCAR AMERICA on Wednesday includes a Denny Hamlin interview, a recap of the Hamlin penalties and Dale Earnhardt Jr. new crew chief news.
Jul 30, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT
Nelson Piquet Jr. shows Kristen Kenney how to wakeboard, on the day after Piquet bagged a podium finish in Red Bull Global Rallycross at Charlotte.
Jul 30, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT
Coming up today: Full coverage of Brickyard penalties against Joe Gibbs Racing, including reaction from driver Denny Hamlin; interview with Eldora Truck Series winner Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr.
Jul 30, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT
Next year, Ives will have deal with an amount of fan and media attention that dwarfs anything he’s ever encountered in the sport.
Jul 30, 2014, 4:06 PM EDT
The livery notes going into this weekend’s Honda Indy 200 at Toronto.
Jul 30, 2014, 2:39 PM EDT
Ives currently serves as crew chief for Nationwide Series points leader Chase Elliott and also worked as a race engineer for Jimmie Johnson during his run of five Sprint Cup titles from 2006-2010.
Jul 30, 2014, 1:14 PM EDT
In addition to talking about the meaning of Sunday’s win at Indy, Alan Gustafson touches on the penalties against fellow crew chief Darian Grubb and Joe Gibbs Racing.
Jul 30, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT
Pair of Blue Jackets players to give the command for Honda Indy 200 this weekend.
Jul 30, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT
Perhaps you haven’t noticed the uptick in form of Ryan Briscoe and the NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing team over the last couple months. Here’s a recap…
Jul 30, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT
Seven races on tap for Indy Lights (2), Pro Mazda (2) and USF2000 (3) in critical Mid-Ohio weekend.
Jul 30, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
Insights and observations from NBCSN’s Townsend Bell after the pair of Toronto races, heading into Mid-Ohio.
Jul 29, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT
The impact of the Jeff Gordon Era; a family affair at Indy for the Dillons; thoughts on the Homestead tire test in August.
Jul 29, 2014, 6:34 PM EDT
Carl Edwards, Jack Roush and crew chief Bob Osborne were severely penalized for a missing oil tank container lid after Edwards’ win at Las Vegas six years ago.
Jul 29, 2014, 5:41 PM EDT
No. 11 crew chief Darian Grubb suspended for six races, fined $125,000; No. 11 car chief Wesley Sherrill suspended for six races; Denny Hamlin loses 75 championship points, but still in position to make the Chase.
- NASCAR AMERICA: Wednesday Round-Up Includes Denny Hamlin Interview (VIDEO) 3
- Greg Ives to become crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr. next season 12
- Ten with Townsend: Toronto debrief 0
- Denny Hamlin’s team hit with big penalties after Brickyard infraction 4
- High 5: Chip Ganassi Racing’s win streak at Mid-Ohio (VIDEO) 0