Jeff Gordon is back in victory lane after 32 long races. Gordon won the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 at the Martinsville Speedway, giving him an elusive 88th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory.
Gordon has been on the edge of making it into victory lane since the late summer but hasn’t been able to seal the deal. Now Gordon is back where he needs to be if he wants to contend for his fifth championship. He’s now 27 points behind the points lead. The win was very emotional for Gordon and his Hendrick Motorsports team as this week was the ninth anniversary of the tragic helicopter crash which had several members of the HMS crew aboard, including Hendrick’s son, Ricky Hendrick.
Chevrolet locked up the manufacturers title for the 11th consecutive season. Gordon has been a Chevrolet driver since his career began in the Sprint Cup Series which brought a greater meaning to this victory. He was able to lead 78 laps during the race as it is Gordon’s eighth win at Martinsville and his first since 2005.
Gordon’s win comes during a race that was expected to be dominated by his teammate, Jimmie Johnson. However, Johnson just wasn’t able to maneuver through traffic like he wanted, causing him to finish fifth. Johnson’s battle on the track throughout the day was against Matt Kenseth. Kenseth and Johnson refused to stay on the same strategy. For a while, they had completely different agendas of when they would pit, yet Kenseth was able to lead the most laps, even after struggling mightily at one point in the day. Kenseth finished second while Johnson finished fifth. The two are now tied for the lead in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings with just three races left in the season.
The race also had a season-high caution rate as there were 17 cautions for 111 laps. David Ragan and Kyle Larson each blew engines early in the going. On lap 182, there was a multi-car incident as Martin Truex Jr., Kasey Kahne, Aric Almirola, Denny Hamlin and Ken Schrader each suffered damage in a massive pile up. A few laps after that restart, Kurt Busch was sent spinning off of turn four. Busch spun on an awkward angle as Mark Martin was the innocent victim of that wreck, getting slammed into which ended his day.
Of course, racing at Martinsville isn’t fun without some drama.
Kevin Harvick took his mad man mentality from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Saturday afternoon and was blatantly aggressive on Sunday afternoon at Martinsville. Harvick got into the back of Ryan Newman, sending Newman hard into the wall while battling for a spot inside of the top-10. Carl Edwards also had a target on his car on Sunday afternoon. Edwards spun out Jeff Burton early in the going and nearly spun out several other cars.
There were some bright spots on the day. Greg Biffle took his No. 16 Ford from the back to the front several times during the race. Biffle had his bumper flying around thanks to Johnson. The two had a confrontation after the race where Biffle grabbed Johnson and dropped a few expletives. Evidently, Biffle was able to finish in the ninth position without a bumper. Jamie McMurray had another top-10 after his win at Talladega last weekend. Danica Patrick also had a solid run, finishing 17th in the No. 10 Chevrolet.
Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.