Martinsville ended up being a day late and a dollar short for some of NASCAR's Sprint Cup drivers. Since yesterday's race was rained out, the drivers were able to race under cloudy but dry skies today. I had to work but was only able to fend off my curiosity for the first half of the race. I was listening to the live broadcast when the excitement got to be just too much. Off went the computer and on went the TV. I'm glad I decided to watch, too.
Jeff Gordon (#24) seemed to be doing well towards the beginning of the race, leading over 70 laps. But Virginia's own Denny Hamlin (#11) was definitely dominating this one. Jeff Burton (#31) gave Denny a run for his money for quite a while, but got caught up in the tire trouble that hit many drivers in today's race. After Jeff Burton's car hit the wall when his tire went out (bringing out caution #12 with only 8 laps to go), it looked like it was going to be a race to the finish between Denny and Kyle Busch (#18). The only takers for pit row were Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch. That left Jeff Gordon in the #1 spot.
Larry Mac, DW and Jeff Hammond all thought that the pit stop with only 8 laps to go was a big mistake for the #11 and #18. And, it could have been, too, but the Gods were smiling on Denny today. With the restart on Lap 496, Jeff Gordon easily pulled away from the pack and looked like he was heading for his first win of the 2010 season. Unfortunately, on lap 499 (that would be the FINAL lap of the 500 lap race), Kyle Busch slammed into the wall while racing Paul Menard (#98) and Marcos Ambrose (#47) hard. This brought out the 13th caution of the day and forced the race into a green-white-checker situation. The line-up on the restart was Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin. Jeff didn't seem to get a very good restart, when Kenseth bumped him from behind, almost causing Jeff to turn sideways. This allowed Kenseth to get around him. Hamlin dived down below and, while Jeff returned the bumping favor and sent Kenseth to the high side, Hamlin and little Joey Logano managed to jump ahead of the pack to finish 1 & 2, with Jeff finishing 3rd. Thus, Denny won his third grandfather clock of the last five Martinsville races. Virginia loves itself some Denny Hamlin!
Next Sunday is Easter. So, there will be no racing. The next NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race will be on Saturday, April 10, 2010 at 7:30pm EST on Fox in Phoenix. Good luck, boys!
Top 5 Finishers at Martinsville Speedway:
1. Denny Hamlin (#11)
2. Joey Logano (#20)
3. Jeff Gordon (#24)
4. Ryan Newman (#39)
5. Martin Truex Jr (#56)