Sunday's 500 lap event at Martinsville was filled with ups and downs. With Jeff Gordon leading the first lap of the race, the real racing action at the short track finally started.
The first caution flag flew at lap 21, when Michael Waltrip hit the wall. It was the first of 12 caution periods throughout the race.
Gordon led the race up until lap 156, when an aggressive Denny Hamlin took the lead.
After a caution on lap 447, Jimmie Johnson exited pit road in first place, leading many to believe that the first pit stall was not always the best at Martinsville.
However, Johnson's lead was short-lived. Hamlin went to the inside of Johnson and assumed command of the race.
On lap 484, Johnson nudged Hamlin to take the lead, ultimately walking away with a memorable win for for Hendrick Motorsports.
The top-10 consisted of names that were common, household drivers, sprinkled with some less prolific.
Of course, race winner Johnson was a name to be expected for the win after winning five of the last six races at Martinsville.
Race runner-up Hamlin was a force to reckoned with for most the this 500 lap race. Unfortunately for the FedEx team, a tap from the No. 48 booted him back to second.
Following the race, Hamlin mentioned that he would have done the same move to Johnson or the leader in the same predicament.
Third-place finisher Tony Stewart ran a great, solid race, showing his case as a definite contender to win the Goody's Fast Relief 500. He kept the pressure on the top two, hoping that they would get into each other just enough so he could sneak by for the win.
Unfortunately, Stewart wasn't there when he needed to be, but nevertheless, it was a good finish for the self-made driver/owner from Rushville, IN.
Gordon, who had lead early on in the race, was predicted by many to win the race. Despite coming up short, the No. 24 team had a good race overall and came back with a fourth place finish.
Clint Boywer finished with a solid top five finish, which was where he ran for most of the day. Despite all the fuss about Bowyer driving for a completely brand new team, the two-time Chase contender has put together a great season so far.
Ryan Newman, Stewart's teammate, had a great day with a sixth place showing. It was good to finally see Newman have a good race for not only Stewart-Haas Racing, but for his team as well. Way to go, guys!
Mark Martin, who finished in seventh position, had a pretty good day overall. After some rough races so far this season, I think we can expect the best from Martin for the remainder of the race season.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. overcame obstacles in the race, including an incident on lap 43 with his shifter that had to be bungee-corded together. Earnhardt would end up coming back from that adversity to finish with his season best of eighth place.
A surprising name to read in the top-10 was A.J Allmendinger. After a few good finishes earlier in the season, a top-10 for Allmendinger was just what that team needed to prove their case to run the full season.
After some less than desirable finishes in 2009, Jamie McMurray brought the No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion home in 10th position. Hopefully, this will give the team some inspiration to put together a great season.
For the Roush Fenway drivers, the next race at Texas could not come at a better time. McMurray was the only bright spot for the Ford team at Martinsville with his top-10 finish.
David Ragan, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, and Greg Biffle did not, as the saying goes, have the time of their lives at Martinsville.
As we head into Texas, we can only hope for more great great racing and finishes!
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