Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series was at the Martinsville Speedway, the paper clip, on Sunday for the Tums Fast Relief 500 race, the thirty-third race of the Season and the seventh race in the chase. Mother Nature was not cooperative on Friday, raining on the track so that there was no practice. She wasn’t much better on Saturday, canceling Coors Light Pole Qualifying, to give the Sprint Cup drivers some practice. The field was set by the rule book, owner points. This put the chasers all up front. It worked out well for the points leaders, 99 Carl Edwards and 17 Matt Kenseth, as they will be starting the race on the front row.
Martinsville Speedway is the smallest track on the circuit, as well as the oldest. The corners are concrete, while the straightaways are asphalt. They can’t drive in the rear of the field for this race, like they did at Talladega Superspeedway. If they do, they will quickly be lapped.
So, here we go! 99 Edwards chooses the inside and races side by side with 17 for the lead. 17 leads the first lap, they still race side by side and 99 takes the lead. 17 and 14 Tony Stewart race for second with 14 knocking 17 into the wall. 14 finally takes second from 17. The first caution comes out on lap 8. 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. hops the curb into 22 Kurt Busch and everyone behind them get into it. Not much damage for anyone, but a big mess. 37 Mike Skinner leaves fluid on the track so there is a lot of clean up. 24 Jeff Gordon makes many stops to pound out the fenders. 88 came in before pit road is open and will have to restart in the rear.
They restart on Lap 21 with 99 and 14 racing for the lead. 99 leads. 18 Kyle Busch drives under 2 Brad Keselowski and 2 gets stuck on top. 48 Jimmie Johnson gets by and 2 pulls in behind. 39 Ryan Newman and 29 Kevin Harvick race side by side. 43 A. J. Allmendinger almost makes it three wide. 18 gets by 17 Matt Kenseth and 2 drives under 17.
The second caution comes out for spinning 78 Regan Smith. 36 Dave Blaney and 1 Jamie McMurray were racing together when 20 Joey Logano turns 36. 78 and 83 Brian Vickers spin together avoiding the mess. 24 is overheating. Since there was rain this weekend, there will be a competition caution on lap 35. NASCAR is using this caution as the competition caution. The teams are able to refuel. 29 nearly gets into 16 Greg Biffle on his way out.
14 stays out to lead. 18 and 14 race for the lead side by side and 14 stays in the lead. 88 and 99 race for position and 88 gets by. 14 and 18 race for the lead and this time 18 takes the lead. 14 lets him go. 2 is stuck on top and many get by him. 11 Denny Hamlin and 22 race side by side for sixth. 43 and 14 battle for second.
The third caution for spinning 83. (83 ended up facing the wrong way in all three cautions.) 83 and 42 were racing and 42 Juan Pablo Montoya spins 83. 24 makes his seventh pit stop. Five drivers have not made a pit stop. 78 Regan Smith gets his lap back and drives around all the cars.
18 and 43 race for the lead and 18 stays in the lead. 17 gets high on the track and 29 gets by. 43 takes the lead. 18 and 11 race for second and 11 takes the spot. 99 nudges 88 and then gets by 17. 11 Hamlin takes the lead, sliding in front of 43. (Denny was singing “It’s just a matter of time” while catching 43.)
The fourth caution comes out during the commercial. 9 Marcos Ambrose spins 00 David Reutimann and there is a lot of smoke. 39 stays out to lead and takes off. 88 and 6 David Ragan race for second and 88 nudges 6 to get by. 6 comes back to try again. 48 drives under 2. 2 didn’t make a pit stop and many get by. 42 drives by 6 for third. 22 and 24 race side by side and 24 finally gets by. 1 drives under 22. 43 races 22 and 43 gets by 31 Jeff Burton and 18 race side by side with 31 on top. 18 and others get by.
The fifth caution comes out during the commercial. 83 spins 1. When 83 comes by again, 1 tries to spin 83 but puts himself into the wall and the battery drops out! On the restart 42, in second doesn’t get going, 4 Kasey Kahne gets into 47 Bobby Labonte and 47 gets turned around. He gets going and there is no caution. 33 Clint Bowyer makes it three wide under 47 to get by. 43 moves to second. 42 and 9 race for third.
The sixth caution comes out when 42 spins 9. 47 Bobby Labonte gets back onto the lead lap. 39 gives up the lead to pit, while others stay out. 43 and 42 restart in front. 43 leads, while 42 gets hung up on the outside. He squeezes in front of 11. 99 and 48 race for eighth. 18 drives under 29 for second. 16 drives under 29 for third. 27 Paul Menard moves up into 88 to get by. 18 takes the lead. 16 gets by 43 for second. 48 slides under 16. 22 gets by 14 for twelfth.
The seventh caution comes out when 88 spins 20. 78 Regan Smith gets back onto the lead lap. 39 and 18 come out of the pits first and 39 takes off. 18 drives under 39 to take the lead. 17 and 48 race for fourth and 48 gets by. 48 drives under 39 for third and then under 11 for second. 24 drives under 16 for fifth. 43 follows 24 by 16.
The eighth caution comes out when 71 Landon Cassill turns 47, who does a slow slide next to 18. 18 and 48 race for the lead and 18 stays in the lead. 88 drives under 43. 29 gets by 31 and then drives under 16 for sixth. 16 races 31 with 88 right behind for sixth. 31 gets by. 24 drives under 11 for third. 24 gets by 48 for second and is catching the leader 18. 24 drives under 18 to take the lead. 11 drives under 48 for second. 24 is about to lap 99, the points leader heading into the race.
The ninth caution comes out when 5 Mark Martin gets onto the curb and gets sideways all by himself. 99 Carl Edwards gets his lap back. 2 drives under 29 for sixth. 43 drives under 88. 11 and 18 race for third and 11 gets by. 11 drives under 48 for second and is catching leader 24. 11 takes the lead. (33 has a boot cam and they show his feet for many laps.) 29 gets by 88 and 20. 88 moves 20 aside to get by. 17 drives under 18. 14 races the leader 11 to stay on the lead lap.
The tenth caution comes out during the commercial. ESPN has side by side coverage during the commercials, but they don’t stop the commercials to show the viewers the caution. 34 David Gilliland blows a tire and gets into the wall. 14 stays on the lead lap. 11 and 48 restart up front and 11 leads. 24 and 48 race for second and 24 gets by. 11 and 24 race for the lead and 24 takes the lead. 18 drives under 48 for third. 48 drives under 18 to take third back. 17 gets around 42.
The eleventh caution comes out when 22 turns 31 into the wall. 33 Clint Bowyer gets his lap back. 29 leads and takes off. 71 gets into the wall and it takes awhile for them to throw the twelfth caution 99 Carl Edwards is again the Lucky Dog recipient. 29 and 14 race for the lead. 42 gets into 88. 16 spins out, bringing out the thirteenth caution. 14 thinks a tire may be going down after contact with 29 and makes a pit stop.
29 leads with 81 Laps to go. 16 comes back onto the track and is in the way. 27 and 22 race side by side, they touch and 27 spins 22, bringing out the fourteenth caution. 5 Mark Martin gets back onto the lead lap. 29 and 24 restart on the front row and 29 takes off. Now here it gets confusing. 99 passed several cars before the Line. He should have had to make a pass through into the pits, but NASCAR reviewed it and decided he had been told to restart ahead of 31, so he was just getting into position. He passed another car and gave that position back, so he didn’t get penalized. My question is, if he was not in position, why did they throw the Green Flag? (He is the points leader and maybe NASCAR is making an exception in this case?)
29 and 48 race for the lead and 48 takes the lead. 11 gets by 29 for second. 18 gets by 29. 2 and 29 race for fifth and 2 takes the position. 88 gets by 17. 43 gets into the wall. 17 and 83 race for eighth, 17 drives under 83 and moves him aside,bringing out the fifteenth caution. 48 stays out, the rest of the leaders make a pit stop. 00 and 31 also stay out. 88 is out of the pits first. 17 gets hit in the pits.
The sixteenth caution comes out when 17 has a tire going down and collects 42 and 18. 18 pits for damage. They work on the right side while the tire changer loosens the left front tire. The Pace car is coming, so they let the jack down and he gets out of the pits. Only the left tire is not secure and the tire comes off on the track. He heads back to the pits with no wheel! 17 goes behind the wall for repairs.
48 and 31 lead the way at the restart with 27 laps to go. 48 pulls ahead and 14 drives under 31 for second. The seventeenth caution comes out when 22 gets sideways into 39, sending him spinning. 16 Greg Biffle gets back onto the lead lap. They restart with twenty-two laps to go. 14 and 31 race for second. 31 finally clears. The hood of 42 flies off, onto the windshield! He heads for the pits. 2 and 11 race for seventh and 2 gets the spot. 24 gets by 88. 99 runs 00 out of his way. 11 finally gets by 2. 29 gets by 88. 14 gets by 31 and so does 24. 71 Hermie Sadler gets by 18, both seven laps down.
The eighteenth caution comes out for 83 again. The car is all mashed up and he tried to take 17 out as a pay back. The Green Flag flies with three laps to go. 14 takes the lead with two laps to go. 88 and 11 get together, spinning 2. 48 is right on 14 on the last lap. 14 Tony Stewart wins the Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway with Johnson right behind. Jeff Gordon finished third, followed by Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Martin Truex, Jr. Carl Edwards and Ryan Newman for the top ten. There were twelve different leaders, with Kyle Busch leading the most.
Carl Edwards keeps the points lead, this time over Tony Stewart, by eight points. Stewart moved up two spots with this win, his third in this chase. Kevin Harvick also moved up two spots, into third, while Brad Keselowski falls a spot to fourth and Matt Kenseth drops three spots to fifth. Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch trade sixth and seventh, followed by Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman to make up the chase.
Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. I love NASCAR racing.