Only 22 of 43 NASCAR Sprint Cup cars finished on the lead lap or 500 times around the .526-mile Martinsville Speedway racetrack this past weekend. Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon avoided much of the serious bumping and banging to complete a podium finish.
The unique paperclip configuration at Ridgeway, Va., with 12-degree banking contributed to numerous crashes. One lap had a metal melee with two separate crashes that ruined a good result for many.
The STP Gas Booster 500 is now history and with that, winner Jimmie Johnson regained the lead in the NSCS point standings.
Post-race comments often define the track action in a way that fans in the stands and viewers might not see or understand. Top producers Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch shared their thoughts after the checkered flag.
Drivers who haven’t won at Martinsville yearn for the prized grandfather clock presented to the winner every race. Jimmie Johnson just got his eighth Martinsville win and certainly has to have a spacious trophy room to display eight grandfather clocks. That trophy room or rooms has to have room for trophies from his other 54 NSCS wins.
Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet)
Jimmie Johnson and the 48 team seem to always roll along with precision from race to race. Johnson explained how.
“We had a great weekend—probably the most calm, relaxed thought-out weekend that we've had as the 48,” Johnson said. “We really fell back on our experience and stayed committed. Chad and Dave and everybody gave me just a way fast race car.
“Over the years, I feel like I've learned that there will be cautions, that things you do inside the car to kind of preserve the life of the tire, and then also how to restart and run your best laps, best five, ten laps, whatever it is, on old tires. It's not an easy thing to do. And I've given away a few races over the years, really lost them to Jeff with his great experience here and how awesome he is at this track, and I've learned to adapt.”
Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Chevrolet)
Jeff Gordon has had a stellar career in NASCAR, but he wants more wins and championships before he climbs out of his fast. No. 24. Gordon described his Martinsville run.
“It was an exciting day for us,” Gordon said. “We were a little bit tighter when the race started than we anticipated, but we also burned the rear tires off of it the first couple runs.
“We needed the points. We needed a good solid run. The 48, you give him that No. 1 pit stall at Martinsville, and I mean, it's almost near impossible to beat him.
“It was an exciting day for us. We were a little bit tighter when the race started than we anticipated, but we also burned the rear tires off of it the first couple runs.
“We needed the points. We needed a good solid run. The 48, you give him that No. 1 pit stall at Martinsville, and I mean, it's almost near impossible to beat him.”
Clint Bowyer (No. 15 Toyota)
Clint Bowyer proved with his second place finish in the 2012 NSCS championship points that he and team are proficient contenders. Bowyer got another second-place in Martinsville.
“The guys did a good job,” Bowyer said. “Everybody on this 15 car did a good job bringing a fast car. It’s just disappointing—she was just tore up too bad. We was lucky to get back up where we were and make some good adjustments.
“All in all it was a good day. Just wish I’d had that clock. We had a fast car all weekend long and really thought we were maybe going to be walking out of here with a Grandfather clock. All in all, second place isn’t bad.”
Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Ford)
Brad Keselowski brought the momentum of the 2012 NSCS championship to 2013 as he and the team are off to a good start in 2013. Keselowski holds on to the No.2 spot this season after race 6 and talked about Martinsville.
“We seem to run sixth here every time,” Keselowski said. “Sixth is good, but it’s just not great. We want to be able to win here and just haven’t been strong enough to do that. We’ve been strong enough to be proud of what we’ve done, and I’m proud of where we are right here today, but the 48 car is on another level. His car is so much better than everybody else that he just plays with everybody the whole race just to make it look good. That’s pretty obvious, but I feel like if we can get our car where he’s at, I can beat him.”
Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota)
Kyle Busch always brings superb skills to every race and often he and team achieve top or winning results. Busch shared his thoughts about Race 6.
“I thought through the middle we had a pretty good piece and we had something to challenge them with. There at the end when it was go time just didn’t quite have enough—just not enough turn and not enough drive off,” Busch said. “We have to work on all those things. It’s all about minimizing your time off the throttle here and we didn’t figure all that out here this weekend. It would be nice to bring home a Grandfather clock, but not this week.”
Next week, these NASCAR drivers take their team efforts to Texas Motor Speedway.
FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of topics by Dwight Drum at Racetake.com. Unless otherwise noted, information and all quotes were obtained from personal interviews or official release materials provided by sanction and team representatives.