Race Review: Tums Fast Relief 500

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jimmie_johnson_denny+Hamlin_jr309mar_3250_540Welcome race fans to the 32nd race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup series season and the 6th race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. The Tums Fast Relief 500, brought to you by Goodyear takes place at NASCAR’s shortest and oldest track, Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, VA. At .526 miles long, this paper clip race track is one of the toughest in NASCAR.

This week Mother Nature came in and spoiled things. There was practice and qualifying on Friday, with Ryan Newman grabbing the pole with a speed of 96.795. And the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race here was finally run after hours of delay for drying the track. Happy Hour was canceled, so NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers had no practice. A competition caution will take place on lap 50. In the lineup is 37 Travis Kvapil, 09 Sterling Marlin, 36 Michael McDowell and 64 Derrike Cope. Only one team had to go home, that being 73 Josh Wise. (You know how I feel about not filling the 22nd row and sending only one car home.) 11 Denny Hamlin, home town favorite, is the in-race reporter. The fans all have a Green Flag to wave for the start of the race.

So, here we go! 39 Newman leads from the pole. 11 Hamlin gets stuck on the outside with many cars passing him by. The first caution comes out on lap 7 for 47 Marcos Ambrose, 17 Matt Kenseth, 7 Robby Gordon and 64 Cope. All cars get going and stay on the lead lap. 17 got into 47, trying to make a hole and gets loose and can’t turn. 55 Michael Waltrip gets into 7 and 64 is left with nowhere to go. 17 pits for adjustments.

39 chooses the inside for the restart. 1 Martin Truex, Jr. and 24 Jeff Gordon battle for second. 1 moves 24 up the track, but 24 takes the spot. 07 Casey Mears and 20 Joey Logano race side by side for position. 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. moves 07 out of the way. 96 Bobby Labonte and 14 Tony Stewart battle, with 96 getting by. They battle some more and 14 gets by. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya gets by 96. 48 Jimmy Johnson goes low around 20 to get the spot. 88 also goes low around 20. 88 and 29 Kevin Harvick race side by side. 24 goes under 39 to take the lead. 11 goes under 43 Reed Sorenson to take the position. 1 gets by 39 for second.

5 Mark Martin drives around 39 on the top of the track to take third from 39. 00 David Reutimann gets by 39. 48 goes low to get by 39. 42 and 33 Clint Bowyer get by 20 who is driving on the top of the track. 48 drives past 5 for third. The second caution comes out for 55 with a flat tire, spinning. This caution on lap 43 will be the competition caution and those pitting may refuel. Pit speed is 30 mph. 24 takes two tires to lead off pit road. 88 and 11 get together in the pits and both have some damage. 34 John Andretti and 71 David Gilliland lead while pitting is going on. Both then pit. 29 and 33 get together. 99 Carl Edwards gets into 14 at the restart. 42 gets by 00. 48 catches leader 24. 24 and 48 battle for the lead and 48 takes the lead. 77 Sam Hornish, Jr. and 17 race side by side. 39 gets by 24.

42 gets by 1 for fifth. 24 and 5 battle, with 5 getting by. Looks like two tires for 24 was not a good idea. 42 gets into 24 to get by. 11 drives under 1 to get by. 11 drives under 24 to take fifth. 1 and 24 battle for sixth, with 1 getting by. The third caution comes out during the commercial on lap 88. 88 has a flat tire and gets into the wall. 48 gets out of the pits first and chooses the inside. 9 Kasey Kahne is too fast exiting the pits and must come back in.

39 and 5 battle. 24 and 42 battle. Both battles are side by side for a long time. They end up 39, 5, 24 and 42. 42 slides in front of 33. 42 bumps 24 and moves him up the track to get by for fourth. 14 gets by 00. 11 gets by 00. 07 and 00 battle side by side. 09 is pitting with a flat tire. 1 has a vibration, maybe a loose wheel, and pits.

The fourth caution comes out on lap 136. The right front tire of 88 blows and he gets into the wall in front of 48. There is no free pass, as 88 was the caution. The leaders all pit, with 48 coming back out with the lead. 7 breaks a gear and heads for the garage.

48 chooses the inside for the restart. 42 is all over 48, battling for the lead. 42 takes the lead. 18 Kyle Busch started 41st and is driving aggressively to move up. 24 bumps 39 to get by. The fifth caution is for debris on lap 157. The top eleven stay out. 11 leads the rest down pit road. 16 Greg Biffle is the Lucky Dog and gets his lap back, making it thirty-one cars on the lead lap. 42 chooses the inside. 24 and 48 battle for second, with 48 keeping the spot. 14, on top, battles 31 Jeff Burton. 2 Kurt Busch and brother 18 battle for twelfth, with 18 getting by. 11 and 00 battle side by side, with 11 getting by. 18, on the outside battles 00 and gets by.

The sixth caution comes out for 12 David Stremme and team mate 77. 77 and 12 get together, 1 bumps 77 and 77 and 12 spin together. 31 Burton stays out to lead. The leaders who stayed out last caution, now pit. 1 Martin Truex, Jr. is the Lucky Dog and gets back on the lead lap. 11 takes the lead. 18 and 29 get by 31.

The seventh caution comes out on lap 195 for spinning 77. 31 and 2 pit. 11 chooses the inside for the restart. 18 and 11 battle at the restart. 18 takes the lead. 48 and 99 are side by side, with 48 getting by. 11 and 18 battle for the lead and 11 takes the lead. 39 and 83 Brian Vickers race side by side with 83 up on the outside.

The eighth caution comes out when 9 gets into the wall, with a blown left rear tire. 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. gets the free pass and is now one lap down. 88 and 9 got together. 11 chooses the outside this time. 07 and 2 and 6 David Ragan and 00 race side by side. They end up 00, 07, 2, 6. 5 and 18 battle for fifth with 5 getting by, with fresher tires. 24 gets by 26. 31 gets by 99 on the top with his fresher tires.

The ninth caution comes out when 44 A. J. Allmendinger gets into the wall and faces in the wrong direction. 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is again the Lucky Dog and back on the lead lap. 20 dove below 44 and bumped him into the wall. 48 comes out of the pits first after jamming the brakes so as not to be caught speeding. 16 Biffle stays out to lead. He chooses the inside. 48 takes the lead. 5 and 16 battle for second, with 5 getting by. 11, 42, 39, and 29 get by 16. 42 gets by 11 on the outside. 99 tries to make it three wide between 16 and 2, but backs off. 16 is falling back with old tires.

The tenth caution comes out when 9 spins 34 and 09 comes to a stop without hitting 34. There is no free pass, as 9 caused the caution. 48 chooses the inside. 42 gets by 5. 42 and 48 battle for the lead, but 42 can’t get by. 39 and 18 battle for sixth, with 18 getting by. 24 gets by 39 for seventh.

The eleventh caution comes out during the commercial. The sway bar of 9 is rubbing the tire and causes a flat tire, putting 9 into the wall. 14, 00, 19 Elliott Sadler, 17 and 34 stay out. 12 spins 1, but he gets going again. 00 takes the lead. 48 gets by 14 for second. 5 and 19 battle for seventh, with 5 getting by. 11 and 14 battle for third and 11 finally gets by. 48 catches leader 00. They battle for the lead and 48 takes the lead. 42 drives by 29 for fourth. 11 gets by 00 for second. 00 and 42 battle for third, with 42 taking the spot. 5 gets by 00 for fourth. 2 and 9 get by 16.

11 catches leader 48. 88 has another flat tire, but he makes it to the pits and there is no caution. 11 and 48 battle for the lead, with 11 taking the lead. 18 and 24 battle for ninth, with 24 getting by. 07 and 00 battle side by side. 20 is all over 31. 9 gets by 26 on the outside. 11 gets stuck in traffic, with 98 Paul Menard, 88 and 19 trying to stay on the lead lap. 99 bumps 18 to get by. 18 bumps 99 to get by. 99 moves 18 up the track to get by. 07 and 14 get by 18. 11 laps 18. 83 is pitting, starting Green Flag Pitting with 75 laps to go. 33 is too fast exiting. 48 and 24 have long stops. 11 retains the lead.

The twelfth caution comes out during the commercial. 19 gets into 34 and 34 spins with 56 laps to go. 11 chooses the inside. 24 gets loose and 83 gets by. 14 taps 20 to get by. 24 gets back by 83. 14 and 99 battle, with 14 getting by. 48 bumps leader 11. 6 and 00 battle. 14 gets by team mate 39 for seventh. 24 and 42 battle for third, with 24 getting by. 99 and 18 battle for eleventh. 18 finally gets by. 26 gets by 99.

The thirteenth caution comes out for debris from 44 with sixteen laps to go. 11, 48, 24, 42, 39 stay out. 14 is out of the pits first. 11 chooses the inside. 24 and 48 battle for second, but 48 keeps the spot. 42 and 24 battle for third, with 42 taking the spot. 5 gets into 07 and sends him high on the track. 18 and 39 battle for fifth. 29 and 5 battle.

The fourteenth caution comes out with six to go. 82 Scott Speed gets hard into the wall with too much speed into the corner. Perhaps he had no brakes. 07 and 2 are pitting. There will be a Green, White, Checker finish. 34 crashes into the inside wall on the last lap at the Start/Finish line. He stays where he is and they all race for the finish.

And 11 Denny Hamlin, the hometown favorite, wins the Tums Fast Relief 500. Someone, after all, can beat Jimmy Johnson. Second isn’t too bad for 48. He retains the lead with 5 118 points behind. Denny moves up two spots into ninth. 42 gains a spot, while 2 looses a spot. 39 gains a position, while 16 looses one. 9 falls back two spots.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley

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